Two measures on California’s ballot involve plastic bags used by stores. One ballot measure could overturn a ban signed into law two years ago. The second would direct the $.10 carryout bag fee to fund environmental projects.
Currently, 150 cities and counties have already banned plastic bags. Just this summer, the City of San Diego approved such an ordinance that includes a six-month grace period for grocery stores and pharmacies. Convenience stores and smaller markets have one-year grace period.
Once the ordinance goes into effect, shoppers who don’t bring their own bags will have to purchase paper bags for 10 cents.
“It hands hundreds of millions of dollars over to the members of the Californians Grocers Association,” Jon Berrier with the American Progressive Bag Alliance said in an interview with NBCLA.
“A vote on this rejects a special interest deal in Sacramento,” Berrier said.
He argued plastic retail bags represent about one percent of litter.
“The idea that you’re going to meaningfully reduce overall waste or litter by banning this product is false,” he said.
Mark Murray with the Californians Against Waste group said eliminating plastic bags in the City and County of Los Angeles has reduced plastic waste through the storm drain system by a third.
“It is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year cleaning up these plastic bags,” Murray said.
He said the $.10 fee was imposed to encourage consumers to bring a reusable bag to the market.
Proposition 65 is the second measure on the ballot. It takes effect if Prop 67 passes.
Proponents say the cost of those bags is added revenue to grocers and retailers. It proposes the fees spent should be required by state law to go to environmental programs “like drought mitigation, recycling, clean drinking water supplies, parks, beach cleanup, litter removal, and wildlife habitat restoration.”
The new Environmental Protection and Enhancement Fund (EPEF) would be managed by the Wildlife Conservation Board.
“This is a political attempt to confuse and mislead voters,” Murray said. “This measure, even if it passes, may result in zero dollars for the environment because it was so poorly written.
In fact, Proposition 65 might prevent Proposition 67's bag ban depending on what a court decides, according to The Legislative Analyst's Office.