AF&PA Opposes Tax On Paper Bags In Testimony Before California Assembly Natural Resources Committee

May 15, 2014
CONTACT: Katharine Eaton
(202) 463-2436, comm@afandpa.org

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) testified Wednesday before California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee in opposition to SB 270 in its current form, unless it is amended so provisions against paper bags are removed.  

“SB 270 hurts consumers by imposing a regressive tax on consumers,” said Cathy Foley, AF&PA group vice president.  “We urge the committee to consider amending the bill to have no tax on paper.”

SB 270 unfairly imposes more stringent requirements on paper bags than competing thick plastic or textile bags. Paper is the only bag option that is commonly accepted for recycling at curbside in California. Additionally, plastic reusable bags are held to a lower standard for postconsumer recycled content, a minimum of 20 percent postconsumer recycled content after July 1, 2016, and a minimum of 40 percent postconsumer recycled content after July 1, 2020.

The Committee passed SB 270 by 5-3 vote, with one abstention.  However, the comments of Committee Chairman Wesley Chesbro during the hearing regarding paper are noteworthy, as he stated, “It is one of the most recycled and recyclable types of products.  Kraft paper… is being recycled very effectively in the state right now, so I am troubled by treating it the same in this process as plastic.”

Paper bags are a recyclable and sustainable packaging option for consumers who need a carryout bag. Paper bags are made from recycled paper and are highly recycled themselves.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the paper bag boasts a national recycling rate of nearly 50 percent.  More than 60 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. has been recovered for recycling in each of the last five years, most recently 63.5 percent in 2013.

“Paper bags should not face discrimination, but should instead be embraced for being a recyclable product made from a renewable resource,” added Foley.

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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy.  AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative - Better Practices, Better Planet 2020.  The forest products industry accounts for approximately 4 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures approximately $210 billion in products annually, and employs nearly 900,000 men and women.  The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 47 states. Visit AF&PA online at www.afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.