If California bans plastic bags, does it matter how the bag fees are used?

California could become the second state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags at retail store checkouts.

In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to implement a ban on the non-biodegradable bags that often end up in waterways and can be harmful to the environment and wildlife.

The governor signed a bag ban bill into law in 2014, but the issue was taken to this year's ballot as Prop. 67 after a referendum effort by the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA). 

The same group is behind Prop. 65, which would redirect money that retail stores collect from charging 10 cents for paper bags when a customer doesn't have a reusable bag. 

Instead of those fees going to the grocery stores, they would be directed into an environmental fund. But several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Surfrider Foundation and Californian's Against Waste, oppose the measure. They call it a distraction to the real issue, which is eliminating plastic bags statewide. 

As of June 2016, 150 cities and counties in California had implemented their own plastic bag bans. If Prop. 67 is approved by voters, the ban will go into effect across the state.

The fees that grocery stores collect under Prop. 67 are not a profit, Prop. 65 opponents say, because they may only be used for specific purposes:

  • Costs associated with complying with the requirements of the bag ban law.
  • Actual costs of providing recycled paper bags or reusable grocery bags.
  • Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or educational campaign encouraging the use of reusable grocery bags.

According to the text of the proposed ban, the fees ensure that customers who are using reusable bags are not footing the cost of providing paper bags. 

If Prop. 65 does not pass, then the fees continue to be collected by stores for these purposes. 

If both 65 and 67 pass, then whichever receives the highest number of 'yes' votes will be the rule for how those fees will be used. 

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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