Plastic Bag Industry And Allies May Dispose Of California's Ban

Dec 30, 2014
Originally published on December 31, 2014 12:45 pm

Last October, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that would ban single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, and allow shops to sell customers environmentally-friendly bags for 10 cents. Senate Bill 270 was set to take effect in July 2015.

But now, The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents several business groups and plastic bag manufacturers, says it's collected enough signatures to force a referendum on the ban in November of 2016. If that referendum qualifies, The Associated Press reports the ban on single-use plastic bags would be suspended until a vote on the measure takes place.

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that the Alliance only had 90 days to collect the more than 800,000 signatures. Roughly 500,000 signatures were needed to qualify for the referendum. The Bee also reports, "Some of those signatures could be invalid. ... And now counties must conduct random samples to determine if enough of them are legitimate."

In a statement, the American Progressive Bag Alliance said SB 270 wasn't about helping the environment, but was actually all about money, as it allowed stores to sell environmentally friendly bags for 10 cents each:

"It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees without providing any public benefit. We are pleased to have reached this important milestone in the effort to repeal a terrible piece of job-killing legislation, and look forward to giving California voters a chance to make their voice heard at the ballot box in 2016."

Capital Public Radio is reporting that the challenge to the law is itself facing a challenge, from the group Californians Against Waste.

"Mark Murray with Californians Against Waste says plastic bags pollute the environment and never biodegrade. 'The plastic bag manufacturers are the only ones with a profit motive on this issue. They're the ones selling $200 million worth of plastic bags into California,' he says.

Murray says environmental groups will fight the referendum — and push for more local plastic bag bans until California voters can settle the issue."

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