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Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags Follows Lead of South Coast Cities

California catches up with Carpinteria, Santa Barbara after Nov. 8 election and voter approval of Prop. 67

Voter-approved Proposition 67, which bans single-use plastic carryount bags statewide, takes effect Dec. 9, but has no impact on Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and other communities that already are enforcing their own ordinances banning the bags. Click to view larger
Voter-approved Proposition 67, which bans single-use plastic carryount bags statewide, takes effect Dec. 9, but has no impact on Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and other communities that already are enforcing their own ordinances banning the bags. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Several years after the cities of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara adopted ordinances banning single-use plastic carryout bags, California voters have approved a statewide ballot initiative with similar guidelines.

Proposition 67, which passed with nearly 53 percent of the vote Nov. 8, prohibits large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing single-use plastic bags to customers.

The ban takes effect Dec. 9, and as an alternative, stores would distribute paper bags to consumers by charging a 10-cent-per-bag fee.

More than 150 California cities and counties already had imposed their own plastic bag bans, according to Dave Heylen, spokesman for the California Grocers Association.

Prop. 67 will have no impact on the municipalities that already have bans in place, he noted.

Heylen said the grocers association joined with environmental groups and community organizations lobbying for a statewide ban on the bags.

“By having a statewide ban, this sends a consistent environmental message to consumers,” he said. “The challenge is to remember to bring the bag. Most retailers are placing signs in their parking lots encouraging their customers to remember to bring their reusable bags.”

In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 270, which ordered a statewide ban on plastic bags as of July 2015.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance led a campaign to repeal the law, highlighting the impact it would have on the nearly 2,000 Californians employed in the bag manufacturing industry.

Opponents gathered enough signatures to place the ban measure on the ballot, thereby delaying its implementation.

“It didn’t need to be on the ballot as it was passed by the Legislature, but Texas plastic bag manufacturers wouldn’t let it happen without a fight,” said Katie Davis, chairwoman of the Santa Barbara Sierra Club Group. “The people of California were smart enough to uphold the ban.”

She cheered Prop. 67’s approval.

“This is big,” Davis said. “The first statewide ban on plastic bags is important because plastics don’t biodegrade and are rapidly accumulating in the oceans.

“Bags are bad because they are used so briefly but persist so long,” Davis said. “Some estimate we could have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.”

Voters rejected a second plastic bag initiative, Proposition 65, which would have created an environmental fund with proceeds from the sale of carryout bags.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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