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Plastic Bag Industry Submits Second California Ballot Measure

Jeff Barnard / AP
 

Jeff Barnard / AP

The battle over whether California should ban single-use plastic bags is already headed to voters this fall. Now, it looks like they’ll also be asked where proceeds from bag fees charged to consumers should be spent.

When Gov. Jerry Brown signed a statewide plastic bag ban in 2014, the American plastic bag industry immediately began working to overturn it, placing a referendum on this November’s ballot.

Now, the industry is submitting voter signatures for a second ballot measure – an initiative that takes aim at the money raised from the bag fees paid by consumers.

Industry representative Phil Rozenski says that money – which grocers currently get to keep – should instead be used for the environment.

“We believe that the majority of the public will oppose the bag ban,“ Rozenski says. “But we believe that whether people support or oppose the bag ban, universally, they believe this is a tragic law that is taking their tax dollars and turning them into corporate profits.”

Critics say the industry is cynically trying to split support for the statewide ban by isolating grocers from environmentalists.

The California Grocers Association declined comment until the initiative qualifies but says it will ask voters to uphold the statewide ban in November.