California’s new bag ban law is set to begin taking effect next July, but opponents of the legislation are trying to get it repealed, and proponents have formed a coalition to protect the law.
In late September Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the first statewide ban in the United States. It will prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags beginning next July. Stores can sell paper, durable reusable bags and compostable bags for a minimum charge of 10 cents each.
The Washington-based American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) is gathering signatures to have a referendum to repeal the law. The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) also supports repeal.
“The SPI always has and always will advocate for science and fact-based legislation, but SB 270 (the new bag ban law) does not fit this description,” said SPI President William Carteaux, in a news release. “We do not believe that in passing SB 270 California lawmakers acted in the public interest, and we trust that the public will repeal it at the ballot box.”
In response, a coalition of environmental, labor and business groups along with local government officials formed the California vs. Big Plastic campaign to protect the ban against what it calls an effort by out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers to force a November 2016 referendum on the measure.
"Unfortunately our state’s electoral system is being hijacked by a corporate special interest: the dying plastic bag industry, companies that apparently can't read the writing on the wall about their product,” said Mark Murray, who represents the group and is also executive director of Californians Against Waste, in a news release. “For them, this isn’t about policy. This is about profits at a great cost to California's wildlife and environment."
The group said the APBA has spent nearly $2 million in an effort to gather signatures, with the bulk of it coming from two businesses, one based in South Carolina and one in China.