Plastic bag manufacturers are pushing back against California’s new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. Anti-ban groups received permission last week from California’s attorney general to start collecting signatures in support of an effort to get a referendum vote on whether bags should be banned onto the November 2016 ballot. If more than 500,000 signatures are submitted by January, California’s recently passed ban would not take effect until after voters weigh in – and only if they approve the measure.
“If this law were allowed to go into effect it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets,” Lee Califf, executive director of the American Plastic Bag Alliance, said in a news release.
Earlier this month, California enacted the U.S.’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Proponents say the law will help prevent pollution of parks and waterways. Under the legislation, larger grocery stores are obligated to stop carrying plastic bags by July of next year. Pharmacies, liquor stores and convenience stores must do the same by 2016. In addition, the law authorizes a 10-cent fee for paper bags that are now often provided for free.
Environmentalists and other ban backers believe most California residents support the measures against single-use plastic bags. “We are confident that Californians will repeat history by rejecting an effort by an out-of-state, special interest polluter funded misinformation campaign to overturn a popular law,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said in a news release.
Bans on single-use plastic bags have been proliferating around the nation. Major cities that include Chicago, Seattle and Austin have enacted them. In California, there are local bans on the books in more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.