Plastic bag manufacturers were given the green light on Friday, October 10 to begin collecting signatures for a referendum vote on the ban of plastic bags on the November 2016 ballot. According to the Associated Press, the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris cleared the way for the referendum to be put on the ballot provided the groups collect and submit more than 500,000 signatures by January. That means the ban would not take effect until voters weigh in on the matter.
A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers is confident that voters will be on their side in the fight when they learn that the new law, SB270, authorizes a 10-cent fee for paper bags that are now often provided for free.
Lee Califf, executive director of the American Plastic Bag Alliance, said in a news release that "If this law were allowed to go into effect it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets."
Under the statewide ban, large grocery stores must stop carrying the so-called "single-use bags" by July 2015. Pharmacies, liquor stores and convenience stores must comply the following year.
Banning plastic bags has become a popular pastime for the environmental groups across the country, and while California is the first to implement a statewide ban, cities including Chicago, Seattle, and Austin have banned the bags, along with more than 100 cities and counties in California that have already banned plastic shopping bags at checkout counters. An environmental group is just as sure that the ban will hold up, and has vowed to fight the referendum.
Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste - a group that has been fighting plastics in that state for many years - commented, "We are confident that Californians will repeat history by rejecting an effort by an out-of-state, special interest polluter funded misinformation campaign to overturn a popular law."
Records show that the American Plastic Bag Alliance has spent at least $140,000 lobbying the California Legislature and the governor's office in the first six months of the year.
However, there are many in-state plastic bag manufacturers who contribute to the drive to overturn the ban. And maybe we need to remind Mr. Murray that plastic bag makers are not the polluters - the fine but messy citizens of California who throw the plastic bags out of their car windows and leave them on the beach to wash out to sea are the REAL polluters!