Press Release

Legislation to Ban Plastic Bags Passes Senate

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, to ban the use of film plastic bags at grocery store checkouts passed the Senate on Tuesday.

SB 1053 closes the loophole to the original ban on film plastic bags enacted 10 years ago that has allowed stores to sell customers thicker plastic bags that meet certain recyclability standards. However, the truth is almost none of those bags are recycled and they end up in landfills, polluting the environment.

 “California’s original ban on plastic bags hasn’t worked out as planned, and sadly, the state’s plastic bag waste has increased dramatically since it went into effect,” Sen. Blakespear said. “We need to do better. Shockingly, some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions alone. California must do its part to eliminate this scourge that is contaminating our environment.”

Sen. Blakespear has partnered with Sen. Ben Allen and Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan to push the legislation. Asm. Bauer-Kahan has authored an identical version of the bill, AB 2236, and both bills are making their way through the legislative process.

SB 1053 and AB 2236 build on California's environmental legacy by strengthening regulations on the use of plastic bags. This legislation stops the use of plastic film bags that are currently sold at checkout to consumers by most stores. Those type of bags were allowed in the original ban on single use plastic bags passed in 2014 because they were deemed recyclable and reusable.

The reality is that these bags are difficult to recycle – and so few are ever recycled – and they are seldom reused. Instead, they have contributed to California’s growing plastic waste. According to CalRecycle, the amount of grocery and merchandise bags disposed by Californians grew from 157,385 tons of plastic bags the year California passed the bag ban to 231,072 tons by 2022 – a 47% increase. 

A plastic bag has an average lifespan of 12 minutes and then it is discarded, afflicting our environment with toxic microplastics that fester in our oceans and landfills for up to 1,000 years.

This legislation tightens standards for reusable bags and requires stores to provide 50 percent postconsumer recycled paper bags or let consumers use reusable bags.

SB 1053 is supported by more than 100 different organizations, including Californians Against Waste, California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) Students and Heal the Bay. The bill goes next to the Assembly for consideration.

SB 1053 passed the Senate on a 30-7 vote and now moves to the Assembly for consideration.

Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of south Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.