FAQ

Q: What is Proposition 67?

A: Proposition 67 is a referendum measure on California’s 2016 statewide ballot. It asks voters to approve a state law passed in 2014 to phase out plastic grocery bags statewide. Prop 67 will reduce litter, protect our ocean and wildlife, and reduce litter clean-up costs.

Q: What does a YES vote mean?

A: Voting YES on Proposition 67 protects our statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that the Legislature passed and the Governor signed in 2014. It would give this landmark law a chance to succeed and reduce the harmful impacts of plastic bag pollution and waste. 

Q: What would a no vote mean?

A: Voting no would overturn the ban on single-use plastic bags in California. It would mean we don’t give the law a chance to succeed. That’s why large out-of-state plastic bag companies are working to defeat 67. 

Q: If it’s already State law, then why do we need to vote on California’s plastic bag ban?

A: Big, out-of-state plastic bag corporations from South Carolina, Texas, and New Jersey spent millions of dollars to gather signatures and force a statewide referendum vote on California’s plastic bag ban law. Voters still get a chance to approve the law by voting YES, but the referendum caused a delay in implementing the law statewide. It also gives plastic bag companies the chance to wage a deceptive campaign and try to confuse voters. 

Q: Why did we ban single-use plastic bags?

A:  For several reasons:

  • Plastic Bags Mean Litter: Single-use plastic shopping bags create some of the most visible litter that blows into our parks, trees, and neighborhoods, and washes into our rivers, lakes, and ocean. A recent study said that if we don’t act now, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, and in 2014, plastic grocery bags were the seventh most common item collected during the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, behind smaller debris such as cigarette butts, plastic straws, and bottle caps.
  • Plastic Bags Harm Wildlife: Plastic bags pose a deadly threat to marine wildlife every day. Sea otters, turtles, seals, birds, and fish get tangled within plastic bags or mistake the bags for food.  Some animals are strangled to death, while others fill their stomachs with plastic and die slow, painful deaths from starvation.
  • Plastic Bag Clean-Up Costs Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions: The process of cleaning up plastic bag litter from our streets, parks, and waterways costs state and local governments $400 million per year. 
  • Plastic Bags Damage Recycling Equipment: These bags can become jammed in recycling equipment, causing expensive damage. The City of San Jose estimated an annual loss of $1 million each year due to plastic bag-related repairs in its facilities. San Francisco and Sacramento report similar costly plastic bag related shut-downs. 

Q: What are the specifics of the law that Prop 67 protects?

A: In 2014, after thorough public study and debate concerning the effect of wasteful plastic bags in our oceans, neighborhoods, and treasured open spaces, California’s state legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 270. Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law with broad public support. SB 270 prohibits grocery stores, drug stores, and other retailers from passing off wasteful, single-use plastic bags to customers. Consumers can always bring their own reusable bags or, if needed, purchase a paper bag for 10 cents.

Q: What are local communities doing to phase out plastic grocery bags?

A: Over 150 communities across our state have already passed ordinances to bag plastic bags locally. Across the board, these cities and counties are documenting significant reductions in plastic bag litter and waste. San Jose found a 59% drop in park and roadside plastic bag litter, a 71% reduction in creek and river litter, and a 69% reduction in plastic bag litter in storm drains.

Q: What is Proposition 65?

A: Don’t be fooled or confused by Proposition 65, which is also part of the plastic bag industry’s deceptive campaign to slow down California’s progress.

Prop 65 claims to support the environment—by directing an insignificant amount of revenue from the purchases of paper bags to a new state environmental fund. It’s actually an attempt by the plastic bag industry to distract from Prop 67, which by law appears at the end of the ballot. All we have to do to defeat the plastic bag industry is to vote all the way down the ballot to choose YES on 67!

Overall, the plastic bag industry has spent more than $6 million (and counting) on their deceptive campaign. 

Q: Why does the state – and many local governments – include a ten cent charge on paper bags?

A. Under California’s plastic grocery bag ban, consumers can always bring their own reusable bags at no charge. The ten cent charge on paper bags helps reminds consumers to bring their own bags and prevent waste, which is exactly what is happening in communities that already have plastic bag bans. The plastic bag industry has tried to make the small paper bag charge an issue, because they don’t want a real debate about plastic bags. The fact is, this small fee barely covers the cost of providing paper bags. The most important issue at stake is the reduction of plastic bags, which litter our communities and harm wildlife. 

Q: Who is in favor of Prop 67? 

A: A broad and diverse coalition of small businesses, environmental and labor organizations, local grocery stores, public health organizations, community leaders, newspapers and elected officials—including Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and over 175 Mayors and Councilmembers—from throughout California have come together in support of YES on Prop 67.

Q: What have some of our local newspapers said about the plastic bag ban and about Prop 67? 

A: The Los Angeles Times editorialized, saying “Don’t buy the [plastic bag] industry spin” against Prop 67. The Sacramento Bee editorialized that, “Californians are smarter than the plastic bag makers, especially those from out of state, seem to think.” The East Bay Times said that voters should “make [the] California bag ban permanent.” As of today, YES on Prop 67 has received endorsements from the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Q: Who is behind the campaign trying to defeat Prop 67?

A: Four big, out-of-state plastic bag corporations from South Carolina, Texas, and New Jersey. They have already spent $6 million in a deceptive campaign against Prop 67, and have even gone so far as to call themselves the “American Progressive Bag Alliance.”

  • The biggest donor is Hilex Poly, a South Carolina company and the largest manufacturer of non-recyclable plastic bags in America.
  • Another funder, Formosa Plastics, is an American affiliate of a Taiwanese company. Over the past 25 years, Formosa has been fined tens of millions of dollars for dozens of safety, contamination, and hazardous waste violations, and has experienced a series of explosions, fires, and toxic fume eruptions that killed six workers. Formosa also recently made headlines for dumping toxic waste into the ocean from its facility in Vietnam, killing millions of fish.
  • These corporations don’t even have production sites in California and therefore don’t employ any Californians. They have been repeatedly slammed by California’s newspapers for holding up a law which has broad support across our state. 

Q: How many plastic bags are thrown away every year in California? 

A: Californians throw away 14,000,000,000 (14 billion!) plastic bags every year. By some estimates, the number is more than 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) annually worldwide.

Q: Are plastic bags recycled or recyclable? 

A: No, industry efforts to recycle plastic bags have been a huge failure. In fact, plastic bags harm overall recycling efforts because they find their way into recycling bins and clog equipment, costing millions of dollars.  

Q: How does Prop 67 build on the success of local cities that have already banned plastic bags? 

A: One hundred and fifty (150) California cities and counties—nearly half the state—have already banned plastic bags. The results of these locally adopted policies are clear, consistent, and indisputable: lower costs, reduced litter and waste, and the elimination of an unnecessary threat to wildlife and the environment. Across the board, cities and counties are documenting significant reductions in plastic bag litter and waste. Some communities have seen a nearly 90% reduction.

Q: Specifically, which local cities and counties already have plastic bag bans in place?

A: Los Angeles passed its own ban in 2012. San Jose has banned plastic bags and found a 59% drop in park and roadside plastic bag litter, a 60% reduction in creek and river litter, and an 89% reduction in plastic bag litter in storm drains. Other localities banning single-use plastic bags include Sacramento County, Napa County, Santa Barbara County, and the City of Hermosa Beach. Currently, Alameda County is looking to expand its own ban, and the City of San Diego is getting ready to move forward with its own ban.

Q: Is the United States currently at the forefront in the effort to ban plastic bags? 

A: Actually, we have some catching up to do, and Prop 67 will be a big step in that direction. Even China banned plastic bags that are thinner than a quarter millimeter, and they saw a reduction in plastic bag use of 40,000,000,000 (40 billion) per year. Mexico City also bans plastic bags, and certain types are banned in the Indian city of Mumbai and the country of Uganda.   

Q: How does Prop 67 protect wildlife and our environment?

A: Plastic grocery bags wash into our rivers, lakes, streams, and ocean, where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish, and birds. Some ocean animals mistake bags for food and fill their stomachs with plastics, ultimately dying of starvation. YES on 67 is a common-sense solution to reduce an unnecessary and deadly source of plastic pollution in our ocean, lakes, and streams. Protecting our coast, not only for sea life, but for recreation, tourism, and the nation’s largest ocean-based economy, is essential for California.

Q: How does Prop 67 help small business and consumers?

A: By voting YES on 67, we will keep in place the statewide standard for phasing out wasteful single-use plastic grocery bags. YES on 67 has the support of local grocers and other small businesses, including many who are seeing plastic bag bans work well at the local level. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and US Green Building Council California are among the many business groups supporting YES on 67. 

Q: How does Prop 67 save taxpayer dollars?

A: Prop 67 will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Recent studies have identified more than $400 million in local government spending to clean up litter and prevent it from reaching waterways. Plastic bags represent a disproportionate and highly visible source of litter because they blow from trash cans, garbage trucks, and landfills, lodge in trees, and wash into storm drains. Prop 67 will dramatically reduce these costs to taxpayers.