As expected by many, the governor signed the plastic bag bill on which the Town Crier reported last month. The law will go into effect July 1, 2015, or July 1, 2016, depending on the type of store.
As the Town Crier reported, “full-line, self-service retail stores” selling “a line of dry groceries, canned goods, or nonfood items, and some perishable items” with gross annual retail sales of at least $2 million must comply with the law starting July 1, 2015 — as will stores with pharmacy licenses that have 10,000 square feet of retail space and generate local sales or use taxes under the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax law.
Other stores selling retail food goods for consumption off the premises and holding either Type 20 or Type 21 licenses issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and stores with such a liquor license selling a “limited line of goods, generally including milk, bread, soda and snack foods,” on the premises must comply by July 1, 2016.
The law requires stores to stop providing single-use carryout bags to customers unless they are recycled paper bags or compostable bags for which customers must pay at least 10 cents. But the compostable bag exception is available only where certain other criteria are met — specifically, an enabling vote of the local governing authority and with available curbside collection of foodwaste for composting. Also, stores may not require customers to use the single-use bags — customers may choose to use reusable bags instead.
All funds collected from such single-use bags will be kept by the stores, but may be used only for certain purposes, including the costs of complying with this new law, of providing the bags themselves, and of educating and encouraging the public to use reusable bags.
The law is intended to ban single-use carry out bags, whether they be made of plastic, paper or other material, “that is not a recycled paper bag or a reusable grocer bag that meets the requirements” of a section of the new law. That section requires that reusable grocery bags sold by covered stores be manufactured by a certified reusable grocery bag producer. Also, such bags must be cleanable and disinfectable, and have at least 15 liters of capacity with a handle designed to withstand at least 125 uses.
Not all single-use bags are prohibited. Besides compostable bags and bags made of recycled paper, bags provided by a pharmacy for prescription medications, and nonhandled bags used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed inside a carryout bag, are not prohibited, nor are bags used for unwrapped food items or bags over articles of clothing on a hanger.
The law is to be enforced by cities and counties with civil fines of $1,000 per day for the first offense and up to $5,000 per day for third and subsequent offenses.
Stores on our Hill that may possibly be affected by this new law include Fairway Foods, Village Market, Skye Island Natural Foods, Idyllwild Pharmacy, Mountain Top Liquors, Idyllwild Shell, Pine Cove Market, and the market at 1000 Trails. But when the new law will apply to each of them or other stores — or even if it will apply to them at all — will depend upon variables such as the store’s annual sales, square footage and liquor licenses, if any.