Voters to decide on California plastic bag ban
American Progressive Bag Alliance gets referendum put on 2016 ballot
A proposed statewide ban on plastic shopping bags in California has been put on hold, as a trade group turned in enough signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents bag manufacturers, had about 50,000 more valid signatures than the 505,000 needed to qualify the referendum after a random sample of the signatures was tallied, said Bill Mabie, chief deputy for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The group had submitted more than 800,000 signatures at the end of last year.
California governor Jerry Brown signed the bag ban last fall, which would have been the first statewide plastic bag ban in the U.S. Under the legislation, California was to begin pulling plastic bags out of checkout counters at large grocery stores such as Wal-Mart and Target beginning July 1, 2015. The ban was scheduled to expand to convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016.
The bag alliance said the ban will cost manufacturing jobs and boost profits for grocers, who can charge customers a premium for bags now given away for free.
“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,” the group’s executive director, Lee Califf, said in a news release.
The law would not have applied to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It also allowed grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags. To address concerns about job losses, the bill included $2 million in loans for plastic bag manufacturers to shift their operations to making reusable bags.
U.S. cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Ore., already have such bans in place, as do most counties in Hawaii.