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How you carry your groceries home from the store may seem like a trivial subject, but it’s the focus of two rival measures on the California ballot that pit environmentalists against the plastic industry. More than 150 California communities have banned flimsy plastic shopping bags, blaming them for a host of problems—from choking wildlife to damaging municipal waste systems. But that’s led to varying shopping bag policies around the state, which causes problems for large retailers. State lawmakers in 2014 passed a bill to put the same rules in place across California: banning thin plastic grocery bags and charging shoppers a dime for paper or heavy-duty plastic. The goal is to encourage Californians to bring reusable bags when they shop. But the plastic industry is putting up a fight.
What would they do?
Prop. 67 supports the 2014 ban signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, and authorizes retailers to charge shoppers 10 cents for other carryout bags—a fee the stores get to keep. Prop. 65 would redirect the bag fee money to an environmental fund administered by the state Wildlife Conservation Board.
If both measures pass, Prop. 65 would only be enacted if it receives more votes than Prop. 67. If voters reject Prop. 67, then Prop 65 does not apply.
What would they cost the government?
A plastic bag ban wouldn’t mean much financially for state and local governments, the state legislative analyst found. If Prop. 65 passes, tens of millions of dollars a year could flow into environmental programs.
Why are they on the ballot?
Both were placed on the ballot by plastic bag manufacturers. After Brown signed the plastic bag ban two years ago, the plastics industry exercised a provision in the state Constitution that allows a popular vote on a law before it takes effect—that became Prop. 67. The same companies also crafted Prop. 65 to take money generated by the bag fee away from retailers and move it instead into an environmental fund.
What the plastic industry says
(no on Prop. 67 and yes on Prop. 65):
Prop. 67 unfairly targets plastic, an inexpensive, versatile material that is convenient for shoppers. Banning plastic bags will do little to help the environment.
Prop. 65 puts money from shopping bag fees into projects that benefit the environment rather than corporate grocery chain profits.
What grocers and environmental groups say
(yes on Prop. 67 and no on Prop. 65):
Prop. 67 upholds the Legislature’s decision to create one statewide policy on plastic bags, which were banned because they threaten marine wildlife, pollute oceans, litter streets and damage recycling equipment.
Prop. 65 was put on the ballot by the plastic industry to confuse voters and penalize grocery stores for supporting the bag ban.
Supporting Prop. 65 or Opposing Prop. 67:
Hilex Poly Co., LLC
Formosa Plastics Corp.
Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association
Opposing Prop. 65 or Supporting Prop. 67:
Californians Against Waste
California Grocers Association
Sierra Club California
Bette Midler, singer/actress
Show me the money on Prop. 65:
Show me the money on Prop. 67:
- More money for environmental programs? What may sound like an environmentalist’s dream is actually political payback being leveraged by the plastic industry, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain explains.
- When it comes to plastic bag bans, California is out front of a national trend that could cut deep into the industry’s bottom line, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- If you appreciate a clever headline as much as we do, check out this one from the San Diego City Beat.
- Since San Francisco banned plastic bags a few years ago, plastic bag refuse on Bay Area beaches has fallen 34 per cent. Read more in this CALmatters look at the state’s potentialbreak-up with the plastic bag.
No on 67: Los Angeles Daily News