A statewide ban on single-use plastic bags would be bad news for manufacturers of those bags, but a handful of local companies are ready to profit from a prohibition.

Gov. Jerry Brown has said he will sign a bill to ban single-use plastic bags, a move that should grow the market for the sturdier, reusable bags made by L.A.-area manufacturers Earthwise Bag Co. and Command Packaging.

Earthwise in Burbank already has seen its sales of reusable bags increase after bans went into effect in Los Angeles, Long Beach and other cities. Stanley Joffe, chief executive of Earthwise, anticipates an additional boost if a statewide ban becomes law. “Obviously, the same expectation is, once the state bans single-use plastic bags, there will be an increase,” he said.

The governor has not signed the bill, but said he would do so during a recent debate with Republican gubernatorial challenger Neel Kashkari.

Bag makers have spent the past several years watching cities up and down the state adopt bans of their own, and some saw that as evidence a statewide ban was inevitable. That’s why Command saw fit to invest millions of dollars in expanding its recycling capabilities, ensuring its supplies of plastic needed for bags that would still be legal in a postban marketplace.

But other manufacturers, notably Huntington Park’s Crown Poly Inc., have been slower to change and now say shifting toward reusable bags would be a costly endeavor.

“I don’t know how difficult it is, but it’s very expensive,” said Cathy Browne, Crown Poly’s general manager.

Brand-new bags

Command in Vernon makes reusable sacks made from recycled plastic and is investing tens of millions to ramp up its manufacturing capacity.

The company last year invested in a Salinas subsidiary called Encore Packaging that repurposes agricultural plastic into bags. Peter Grande, Command’s chief executive, said the company has invested about $15 million in recycling operations in Salinas and Vernon and has earmarked another $25 million to expand manufacturing capacity related to an expected increase in statewide demand for reusable plastic bags.

Called “smarterbags,” Command’s reusable bags are a thicker alternative to common grocery bags. They’re similar to those used by bookstores and clothing shops, with a glossy exterior and a sturdier feel. They’re also made mostly of recycled plastic.

Grande said they meet the proposed state law’s requirements to be considered reusable.

He’s no fan of bag bans, saying there’s no scientific evidence to support them. But he also said it’s been clear for some time that the state would eventually ban single-use bags, so it made sense for the company to ramp up its reusable offerings.

Prev

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.