California's Proposed Bag Ban Puts Grocers before Consumers

Dallas, TX

Voters in California have the opportunity to reconsider a troubling clause in their plastic bag ban legislation that lines the pockets of retailers – at the expense of consumers, according to a new report by National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal.

As it’s currently written, Senate Bill 270, the original plastic bag ban legislation passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown “is nothing more than an unholy alliance between grocers and environmental groups,” says Villarreal. “It will fleece the consumer and likely have little impact on the environment.”

Other states are considering measures similar to California’s.

The statewide ban, which was passed in 2014, has not taken effect yet because opponents gathered enough signatures to put it to a referendum vote in November.  Two propositions, Prop 65 and Prop 67, will give voters the chance to redirect the bag fee so the money goes to the state for environmental programs and clean-up – or eliminate the ban altogether.

New polling shows that while the majority of the Democrat dominated voting population in California supports a bag ban, they do not support grocers pocketing the fees collected for paper and reusable bags:

  • In an August 2016 poll by Probolsky research, approximately 58 percent support Prop 67, the ban on plastic retail bags.
  • However, 57 percent of voters also support Prop 65, requiring stores to “deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board to support specified categories of environmental projects.”

The bag ban won’t just bring in chump change; researchers estimate that retailers stand to gain an estimated $442 million in annual revenue from the sale of paper and reusable bags across California.

“The debate over California’s statewide plastic bag ban has shaped up to be a battle over the involuntary transfer of wealth from customers’ wallets to big grocers,” says Villarreal. “Ultimately California voters will decide what they do with their money and how it should be spent.”

California’s Bag Ban: A Wealth Transfer from Customers to Big Grocers.

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