The Word: Order vs. Chaos

This week, we continue our preview of Grocers Day at the Capitol by focusing on the second of two bills sponsored by CGA in this legislative session.

Assembly Bill 1171, authored by Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R-Yorba Linda), seeks to provide a logical framework for local governments pursuing food packaging ordinances.

California is now home to over 120 local food packaging ordinances, or about one-quarter of the state’s 58 counties and 482 cities. Some municipalities have even gone as far as banning entire types of plastic — most notably, polystyrene (foam and hard). Others mandate only compostable and biodegradable packaging for single-use purposes, or a combo of both.

Generally, grocers have been able to comply with this increasing patchwork of local ordinances because most of these laws have provided a rational framework from which to operate. For example, the City of San Francisco passed a comprehensive ordinance banning polystyrene foam from food packaging, but continued to allow both recyclable and compostable packaging options. Unfortunately, not every local jurisdiction has been as mindful.

The City of Santa Monica recently passed an ordinance requiring the use of “marine-degradable food packaging.” The problem is such packaging does not exist.

AB 1171 would prevent other cities from envisioning a similar ordinance and would forbid the mandating of non-existent packaging standards. And, as an added layer of protection against illogical laws, cities would also be prevented from banning the use of a food packaging material if that type of material is accepted by their curbside recycling.

It will be important for legislators to hear from CGA members about how important this is to our industry, so if you haven’t registered for Grocers Day, please do so today.