Conservation & Science

Bags on the Ballot: Vote YES on 67, NO on 65

This November, California will have 18 statewide propositions on the ballot. That’s a lot. Two of them, Proposition 65 and Proposition 67, deal with single-use plastic bags. Naturally, that’s confusing voters—and confusion is just what the plastics industry wants.

Plastic bags are a significant source of ocean plastic pollution. Photo by NOAA

Here’s a little background. In 2014, California legislators passed a bill (SB 270) to ban single-use carryout plastic bags in grocery and other retail stores. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law, and it should have gone into effect on July 1, 2015. Instead, out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers blocked implementation—spending millions of dollars to gather signatures and force it to a public vote.

As part of that law, stores can charge customers who don’t bring their own bags a minimum of 10 cents for recycled paper, compostable or reusable alternatives. The law also allocates $2 million to support jobs making eco-friendly bags.

So, what’s the difference between the two propositions? Here are a few tips to help sort it out.

Proposition 67

Monterey Bay Aquarium urges a YES vote on Proposition 67, the last measure on a long ballot. Why?

Proposition 67 is a referendum that requires voters to affirm, “Yes, we uphold the law to ban single-use carryout plastic bags statewide.” Doing so would help reduce one source of ocean plastic pollution, which is a major threat to ocean ecosystems, has serious impacts on marine wildlife, and even poses a risk to human health.

Julie Packard sports a reusable shopping bag.

Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard is one of the authors of the Yes on 67 argument in the official Voter Information Guide. “Plastic bags harm wildlife every day,” she writes. “Sea turtles, sea otters, seals, fish and birds are tangled by plastic bags; some mistake bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics and die of starvation. YES on 67 is a common-sense solution to reduce plastic in our ocean, lakes and streams, and protect wildlife.”

Plastic bags trash our communities. They’re expensive to clean up and difficult to recycle. Considering the many negative impacts of plastic bags, California enacted the first statewide ban in the U.S.

With voter support to uphold the ban, California has an opportunity to lead the nation. One day, the U.S. might even follow in the steps of countries like Ireland, France and Rwanda, which have banned plastic bags nationwide.

Let’s not take a step backward.

To date, more than 150 California cities and counties are covered by local bag bans. But it is important for even those residents to vote Yes on Proposition 67 to implement a ban throughout California.

Pins supporting the ban of plastic bags and voting Yes on Prop 67.

Environmental groups, California grocers, state officials, philanthropists, and countless others are committed to the statewide ban and working hard for a Yes on Proposition 67.

Remember, Proposition 67 is the last state initiative on the ballot. Join us, and save the YES for last! Polling shows that we can win if you vote—and every individual can make a difference. Vote YES on Proposition 67.

Proposition 65

Monterey Bay Aquarium urges California voters to vote NO on Propositions 65.

This second ballot measure related to carryout plastic bags is the so-called “Environmental Fee Protection Act.” It would require fees paid by shoppers for alternative bags to be deposited into a state “environmental fund” that has yet to be established.

It is a deceptive measure placed on the ballot by the same out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers that forced SB 270 to a referendum. Their intent is to confuse voters. If Proposition 65 receives more “yes” votes than Proposition 67, it could further delay the statewide ban on single-use carryout plastic bags.

The plastics industry has already delayed our statewide plastic bag ban by 16 months. A NO on Proposition 65 would allow SB 270 to go into immediate effect. It would also ensure more consistency from city to city and county to county.

Plastic bag manufacturers, collectively through the American Progressive Bag Alliance, are outspending its opponents almost 2-to-1. It’s an investment to protect their profits, not our environment or our communities.

We believe it’s critical for Californians to win this ballot battle. Eliminating carry-out plastic bags statewide is an important step toward a plastic-free ocean.

Vote YES on Proposition 67, the last one on the ballot. And vote NO on Proposition 65.

Learn more about ocean plastic pollution, what we’re doing about it and how you can help.

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