Plastic Bag

By Jessica Calefati
Posted: 11/02/2015 – 09:06:08 PM PST
Updated: 11/03/2015 – 05:46:23 AM PST

SACRAMENTO — Next year’s election is still more than a year away, but the battle over California’s landmark ban of single-use plastic bags is already shaping up to be the most costly, high-profile fight over litter and recycling the state has seen in three decades.

Out-of-state bag makers leading the campaign to repeal a 2014 law banning their product spent $3 million on signature gathering alone — and in a surprise move recently filed another initiative on the same topic, a highly unusual strategy that appears to be the political equivalent of a trick play in football.

If voters validate the law next year, grocers will begin encouraging customers to use reusable bags by charging them at least 10 cents for every paper or thicker plastic bag they take at checkout. The new measure — expected to easily qualify for the ballot because bag makers can afford to pay signature gatherers — would force grocers to deposit those fees into an account for environmental improvement projects.

More money for drought mitigation, wetlands restoration and beach cleanup surely sounds appealing, but don’t be fooled, initiative experts say. Bag makers are promoting the Environmental Fee Protection Act in this business-versus-business fight to make Californians’ heads spin and perhaps entice grocers to spend money fighting the measure rather than opposing the referendum — not to help the environment, experts say.

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