It’s been some months since we added to our “Really?” posts–which is definitely a good things– and California has usually been on the applaud side of our commentary. It’s a sad situation that the plastic industry is able to exert these pressures to take advantage of the current health crisis.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended California’s ban on grocery stores providing single-use plastic bags amid concerns that clerks may be at risk for exposure to the coronavirus if shoppers are required to supply their own reusable bags to carry their purchases home.
Newsom announced Thursday that he signed an executive order to suspend the 2016 plastic bag ban for 60 days after hearing concerns from the California Grocers Assn. about shoppers bringing reusable bags from home that are handled by store clerks filling them with groceries.
“We are being cautious to make sure there is no transmission of the virus,” said Dave Heylen, a vice president for the grocers’ group. He said the grocers will go back to abiding by the plastic bag ban when the order expires.
The executive order signed Wednesday does not affect the more than 100 cities and counties that adopted their own ordinances banning or regulating single-use plastic bags.
The governor’s executive order also approves a 60-day pause in redemption of beverage containers in stores and a mandate for recycling centers to operate a minimum number of hours.
Newsom’s order said the suspensions are “critical to protect the public health and safety and minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure for workers engaged in essential activities, such as those handling reusable grocery bags or recyclable containers where recycling centers are not available.”
Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, which had supported the Legislature’s approval of the ban, said the order is unnecessary.
“Reusable bags are perfectly safe, and pose zero threat to store employees and other customers as long as consumers take responsibility to bag their own groceries,” Murray said.
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