A coalition of manufacturers and chemical companies are on the verge of forcing a California ballot measure that could repeal the state’s single-use plastic bag ban. The likely referendum, which would take place in November of 2016, comes as opponents of the ban have gathered 500,000 signatures to compel a vote. Under California law, the referendum would at least delay the pending plastic bag ban by 16 months – as challenged laws can’t take effect until voters have cast their ballots on the issue.
“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,” said Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which drove the referendum fight.
Prior to the measure, California was set to become the first state to officially ban single-use plastic bags on July 1, 2015. After a multi-year political battle, the state’s legislature passed a ban earlier this year. The law – signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in September – would have given consumers the choice to either shop with reusable totes or pay 10 cents for a paper bag or multiuse plastic carrier at checkout. It also would have let local governments impose fines of up to $5,000 on businesses that didn’t comply with the law.
Supporters of the ban contend the referendum initiative was effectively bought with nearly $3 million from plastics manufacturers – many of them not even from California. “The problem with the referendum is that it would postpone implementation of the ban that’s already been passed,” said Mark Murray, a member of Californians Against Waste. “That means more plastic bags, more clean-up costs, more costs for stores and consumers.”
Polls have shown the majority of Californians support a statewide single-use plastic bag ban. Already, 138 California cities and counties have approved plastic bag bans.