California bill proposes charge for bags

April 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Would you be willing to pay 25 cents per bag to keep using plastic grocery bags at the supermarket? That's what a new bill being heard in the State Assembly today is proposing.

Part of the push by lawmakers is to try to get grocery and drugstores to just stop using the plastic bags altogether. A 25-cent fee per bag could very much become reality for people every single time they use a plastic bag at the grocery store. The proposal could go into affect as early as next summer.

Lawmakers say the plastic bags are an environmental hazard for one thing. Last year, 19 billion plastic bags were used in California by stores. The problem is they don't fully decompose once in the landfill.

Two proposals will go before lawmakers today. Both call for extra fees on plastic bags, up to a quarter each. Lawmakers say the stores need to reduce the amount of plastic bags they use and consumers say a 25-cent fee per bag would definitely add up.

"It would be too much. Sometimes you get a lot of groceries. It could be ten or more bags, a lot of extra charge on that. On the other side it's a lot of waste because a lot of people throw them away," said Ronnie, Belmont.

"That is crazy; I thought it would be free. I don't know an extra 25 cents - you could go to something else. I don t know, I wouldn't - that's a lot of money to me, I think, just for a plastic bag each," said Felipe Martinez, Newark.

Last July, California stores were required to offer bag recycling programs. Many have those programs in place. An environmental group says that has actually helped to double the number of bags being recycled in California. But according to the California Retailers Association, they represent the corporate stores and drugstores, they say the lawmakers should hold off on this proposed fee on plastic bags and allow the recycling program to do its thing and have shoppers bring their own bags to the stores.