California Plastic Bag Ban On Hold by Referendum
The plastic bag ban in California was supposed to take effect this July, but now the vote has been moved to November of 2016, after opponents of the ban qualified for a referendum on the law. The original legislation was approved and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. It would have banned plastic bags in large grocery stores in July of this year, and other retailers in July of 2016.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance, opponents of the ban, submitted more than 800,000 signatures for the referendum. Only 504,760 signatures were needed to accomplish this.
Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, called the ban a "terrible law." He told the Los Angeles times that if the ban took place, it "would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative."
Supporters of the legislation cited environmental issues such as littered rivers and beaches, and a threat to local wildlife as major concerns. Supporters are expected to launch a $10 million campaign to ensure a "yes" vote.
Mark Murray, a spokesman for Californians vs. Big Plastic, told the Times that 98 percent of the more than $3 million raised to fight the ban came from out-of-state donors. According to the Sacramento Bee, South Carolina-based Hilex Poly Co. Inc. donated $1.7 million to the cause, with two companies in Texas donating $500,000 each, and a New Jersey-based company donating $400,000.
Numerous counties and cities in California already have plastic bag legislation in place, but the statewide ban has been the subject of controversy in California. While the statewide ban will have to wait until next year, other cities and counties are making moves toward local legislation regarding plastic bags.