Plastic Bag Supporters Petition To Challenge Ban In California

It was only three months ago that California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning single-use plastic bags, and already it’s facing a challenge.

The law goes into full effect July 1, until which time retailers were supposed to phase out the bags, while consumers would need to bring their own multi-use bags or pay for one, or for a paper bag at the register. But supporters of plastic bags say they’ve collected enough signatures on a petition to prompt a referendum on that law, which could possibly delay its final implementation.

Plastic manufacturers and supporters said they gathered more than 800,000 signatures — when they only needed 504,760 to qualify for a referendum — according to trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance, reports the San Francisco Gate.

“The industry obviously is opposed to this particular piece of legislation because it seeks to ban a 100 percent recyclable product and also put fees on consumers for other bag alternatives,” said Jon Berrier, spokesman for the Progressive Bag Alliance. “It’s all orchestrated as a cash grab by members of the California Grocers Association to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees, none of which goes to a public purpose.”

(Feds say whether a single-use bag is biodegradable is up for debate, however, until proven.)

Supporters of the ban from the California Grocers Association call the “cash grab” claims a “tired argument,” because the law “clearly states that any monies generated by the sale of paper bags must go toward cost recovery, training and educating the public on reusable bags,” a rep said, noting 90% reductions in single-use bags in cities with similar rules.

“The state Legislature didn’t buy this desperate argument and neither do Californians,” Ron Fong said.

The petitions still need to get checked against a list of registered voters, county by county, before the referendum can be verified. If it goes ahead, the law could be delayed until after the referendum is held in November 2016.

“They are basically buying themselves a 15-month postponement,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste and the bag-ban campaign treasurer. “Honestly, it’s frustrating that California’s electoral process can be hijacked by out-of-state plastic-bag manufacturers.”

Areas of the state that already banned plastic bags aren’t affected by the postponement– San Francisco outlawed plastic bags in 2007, and 130 other California cities ban them as well.

Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban [The San Francisco Gate]

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