Ban the Bag, California!

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and Community Environmental Council (CEC) are pleased to see The Independent’s endorsements of the plastic bag ban related propositions — Yes on 67 to uphold the statewide bag ban and No on 65, an attempt by the plastic bag industry to confuse voters.

In 2014, California passed SB270, a law to phase out wasteful plastic grocery bags, with broad support from local governments, business groups, unions, retailers, and environmental organizations. More than 151 communities across California have already banned plastic bags, but Californians still use approximately 12 billion-15 billion plastic bags annually. Locally, the bag bans already in place reduce distribution by 100 million plastic bags annually. These laws work. Communities with bans in place report significant reduction in bag litter in creeks and stormdrains. We are seeing these results locally and are finding far fewer plastic bags at our creek and beach cleanup events. We are also finding that community members easily adapt to bringing their own reusable bag or simply going without a bag.

As soon SB 270 was signed by the governor, plastic bag manufacturers took action to overturn it via referendum. These out-of-state companies — based in Texas, South Carolina, and New Jersey — have already reaped $148 million by delaying implementation of our state law. The $6 million they spent to gather signatures and put Prop. 67 on the ballot barely cut into their profits.

Since polls show that a majority of Californians support upholding SB270, these companies spent an additional $2 million to hedge their bets with Proposition 65. Although it sounds environmentally friendly, it was designed to split the alliance between the grocery industry and environmental groups, longtime allies in the effort to pass a uniform statewide law. Prop. 65 includes intentionally vague language that could lead to further delays in implementing SB 270. The San Jose Mercury News described Prop. 65 as “one of the most disingenuous ballot measures in state history.”

Prop. 67 is the last item on the ballot but first in protecting our oceans, rivers, and parks. Please join us in voting yes on Prop. 67 and no on Prop. 65.

Penny Owens is education coordinator for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

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