California’s Plastic Bag Ban Delayed, Must Now Face November 2016 Referendum Vote

With just five months until California’s statewide plastic bag ban was set to take effect, opponents of the law have successfully petitioned for a ballot referendum, delaying the law until voters have their say next year.

The Los Angeles Times reports that opponents of the plan to phase out the use of plastic bags qualified for the referendum after they collected the 504,760 signatures needed to place the measure on the November 2016 ballot.

“California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, 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,” Lee Califf, executive director of the trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance, tells the Times.

Under the law – which was set to go into effect on July 1 – consumers would have had to bring their own reusable bag, purchase a reusable bag from the retailer or pay at least ten cents for a paper bag or a multi-use plastic carrier that meets state durability standards.

Mark Murray, a spokesperson for the campaign Californians vs. Big Plastic, tells the Times that supporters of the ban expected the referendum to be granted after opponents announced in December that they had collected more than 800,000 signatures.

“It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98% of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” he said in a statement.

Still, groups backing the discontinuation of plastic bag use in the state are confident that voters will uphold the ban.

“Every poll shows that Californians strongly support the law, and the $30 million to $50 million it will cost the plastics industry to launch a full-fledged campaign in 2016 will be proven to be an act of political malpractice, particularly since nearly half the state will no longer have plastic bags by election day,” Murray said.

Murray noted that city and county plastic bag bans will not be altered by the ballot vote.

The referendum qualification comes five months after the measure to phase out plastic bag at grocery stores and other retailers was approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California’s plastic-bag ban put on hold by ballot referendum [The Los Angeles Times]

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