- Today the San Diego City Council will vote on whether to ban single-use disposable plastic bags and charge 10 cents for paper bags at certain locations. Larger stores would have to comply in six months and smaller stores would have one year.
- A similar ordinance was introduced in 2013 and passed by committee to the full council, but never received a vote.
- Governor Jerry Brown signed a statewide ban into law in 2014. A signature campaign funded by representatives of the plastic bag industry has now temporarily frozen that ban and forced it to a referendum in November called Proposition 67.
Some environmental groups pushed for the city ordinance in 2014, but officials said it wasn't a good use of taxpayer money to pass a duplicate of state legislation. Now in light of the fall referendum they're thinking otherwise and hope to join the more than 145 cities in California which have their own bans. San Francisco's was the first in 2007 and has been credited with sparking a push for similar ordinances across the country.
Seattle enacted its own ban in 2012 and recently reported a 50% decline in bags found in the waste stream as a result. Many other municipalities of varying sizes have passed their own ordinances—including a contentious one in New York—and a few states have considered legislation as well. Yet opposition is still strong in many cases and some states have gone in the other direction by pursuing bans on bans.
Among the common issues raised is what happens to the money stores charge for bags. Some cities such as Washington D.C. use the money for specific programs, while others allow retailers to keep the money. Along these lines California voters will also be deciding on Proposition 65 this fall which could require stores to donate the money from paper bags to environmental causes.