Plastic Trash Bag Program Legislative Report

The Plastic Trash Bag Program Legislative Report was originally begun in 2001, but was delayed pending a comprehensive review of California’s policies and programs impacting the use, disposal, and recycling of plastic products (see background for more detailed information).

In 2004, a preliminary draft was completed and the Board embarked on a process of gathering and reviewing input in preparation for the final report. Use the links below for more information on this process.

Current Status

A final draft of the report was released for a 15-day comment period starting December 17, 2004. An Interested Parties Meeting was held on January 6, 2005 and written comments were due by January 7, 2005. The deadline for comments was extended to January 21, 2005 in response to stakeholder requests.

A listing of the available written comments received is available.

After reviewing the input, questions and comments presented both at the Interested Parties Meeting held on January 6, 2005 and submitted in writing; program staff recommended specific changes into the report for the Board’s consideration.

The final report was brought to the Board for consideration of approval at its February, 2005 meeting.

Previous Stakeholder Input and Review Process

The preliminary draft of this report was released for a 30-day review and comment period from August 13 through September 10, 2004.

Stakeholders had the opportunity to provide oral comments at the Interested Parties meeting held September 2, 2004 (see below for details) Board staff reviewed and carefully considered all submitted comments and revised the report as necessary. The revised draft report was released for a 15-day review and comment period September 28, 2004.

Summary of Recommendations

The recommendations included in the updated report reflect stakeholder input from the Plastics White Paper process and workshops associated with implementation of the trash bag certification program, and interested parties meetings and roundtable workshops. The recommendations in the report are grouped into the following categories:

Develop a Tiered Certification Structure. Under this strategy the Legislature could provide plastic film manufacturers with greater flexibility by allowing them to select from a range of compliance options. This approach would also allow the Board to work with stakeholders to consider who the responsible reporting entities should be, and promote the increased use of postconsumer resins and biodegradable technologies in a wider range of plastic film products.

Support New and Expanded Plastic Film Collection and Processing Infrastructure. The primary recommendation under this category is the implementation of a mil fee to fund the necessary improvements to the collection and processing infrastructure in California to supply the amount of postconsumer plastic resins necessary for manufacturers to meet the minimum recycled content requirements, as amended, of the law.

Help Improve the Quality of Postconsumer Resins. One of the main barriers cited by manufacturers as an impediment to complying the recycled content requirements of the law is the lack of availability postconsumer resin that meets their quality standards and is compatible for use in their manufacturing process. The Board is currently developing quality control guidelines to help processors make a better quality product. More work will need to done on this issue through a continuous improvement process, which might be State-led, to ensure that quality postconsumer material is made available to manufacturers.

Minimize Compliance Exemptions and Omissions. Currently there are some compliance and enforcement provisions of the law that if revised would help to make the law more effective.

Written comments were received and a stakeholder forum was held on October 27, 2004. Through the forum a list of conceptual alternative recommendations was developed, which included:

  • Focus on increase collection to/for open loop recycling options.
  • Develop Quality Assurance Guidelines.
  • Producer Responsibility.
  • Increase Education and Promotion (voluntary option).
  • Prioritize efforts based on 2003 Waste Characterization Study (WCS).
  • Industry as a whole becomes responsible for collection, diversion, reproduction, and reuse.
  • Industry to provide input/ideas on where ‘closed loop’ can be used.
  • Include conversion technology as an option where markets do not exist.
  • Establish diversion goals to measure progress by.

How to Provide Input

The proposed recommendations in the report will impact all stakeholders. Your comments and participation is paramount for ensuring that your voice is heard regarding any new or revised recommendations to include in the final draft report. Please note, the comment period has been extended until January 21, 2005. The report is scheduled to be presented at the Board’s February 2005 meeting. The agenda item for the report will include an option to “adopt as amended” in order to include any changes made based on comments received during the extended comment period. A response to comment document for this final comment period will also be made available prior to the Committee and Board meetings.

You may mail your written comments to:

Michael Leaon, Supervisor
Plastic Recycling Technologies Section
California Integrated Waste Management Board
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4025
Sacramento, CA 95812

You may also fax your comments to (916) 319-7318.

If you have any questions regarding the report and proposed changes, please contact Neal Johnson or Michael Leaon.



The plastic trash bag program was enacted in 1993 by Senate Bill (SB) 951 (Hart, Chapter 1076, Statutes of 1993), and is codified in Public Resources Code section 42290 et seq. The regulations implementing this program are found in Title 14 of California Code of Regulations (CCR) sections 17975 et seq.

The plastic trash bag law requires plastic trash bag manufacturers to submit, no later than March 1 of each year, a certification to the Board of their compliance with the postconsumer content requirement, for those trash bags that are intended for sale in California. Wholesalers are required to submit annual certifications identifying the manufacturer(s) they purchased trash bags from and the amount distributed in California.


The CIWMB was required by PRC section 42293(b) to survey plastic trash bag manufacturers and report to the Legislature in October 2001 regarding the following:

  • The names and locations of postconsumer resin suppliers certified by manufacturers.
  • The quantities of plastic postconsumer material provided by California suppliers and the suppliers outside of the state.
  • Provide recommendations regarding recycled plastic postconsumer material content requirements based on the availability of that material.
  • Identify gauge thickness of all regulated bags.
  • Determine the extent of manufacturers producing separate trash bags lines for California.

The 2001 report was subsequently delayed pending the results of a comprehensive review of California’s policies and programs impacting the use, disposal, and recycling of plastic products.


The Plastics White Paper (2002) recommended that the State of California develop management systems to optimize plastics use, recycling and disposal. This would require comprehensive approaches that reflect product stewardship/shared responsibility principles and equitable spreading of economic and environmental costs/impacts between all affected parties.

Reasonable recycling targets need to be established that promote technological innovations in recycling. The State should promote the use of plastic products and technologies, such as biodegradable plastic products and conversion technologies that minimize environmental impacts associated with plastic discards. In June 2003, the Board adopted several recommendations out of the Plastics White Paper report, including support of product stewardship and financial responsibility; new and emerging technologies to divert plastics from disposal; expanded collection and processing infrastructure; and for public education and outreach efforts.

This updated 2001 Plastic Trash Bag Legislative Report specifically addresses the questions posed to the Board for the 2001 report and includes the latest information from the manufacturer and wholesaler certifications for the 2003 reporting period. A preliminary draft report was developed.


In 2004, a preliminary draft was completed and the Board embarked on a process of gathering and reviewing input in preparation for the final report. See above for details on this process.

For more information contact: Buy Recycled,