Legal, Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
November 03 2014

California’s Bag Ban Victory in Jeopardy

by Angela Howe

Even though the ink has barely dried on Senate Bill 270, the state bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California and require a fee on paper bags, the bag industry has pledged to drag the law onto the state ballot in 2016.  

Currently the plastic bag industry, including Hilex Poly Co. and Superbag Corp.,  is collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn the ban on sigle-use plastic bags.  If they successfully acquire 505,000 signatures from registered voters, the 2016 statewide ballot willl carry a challenge to the state bag ban law that was approved by the Legislature and the Governor a mere two months ago.  Unfortunately, if the bag industry is successful in acquiring the signatures they could postpone implementation of SB 270 by 16 months until that November 2016 vote. With this delay, an additional 17 billion plastic shopping bags could be distributed in the state, posing a threat to our oceans, wildlife and environment.

So far, the plastics companies have poured over $1.8 million into the effort.  The bag industry has used this money to hire signature gatherers that are out in the streets now.  If you spot the signature gatherers in action and would like to report it to our coalition partners, you can do so here.

Fortunately, a recent poll by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times shows that Californians support the ban by almost a 2-1 margin. Given that one third of the state is already covered by an existing local plastic bag ban, there is already a shift in the way people think about the issue.  More and more, people are starting to remember their reusable shopping bags when they go to the store.  This voter support for a plastic bag ban will certainly present a challenge for industry groups that are hoping to overturn the law.  Nonetheless, we may be in for another major battle to protect the state's precedent-setting environmental law.

Stay tuned for more updates about how to support this fight.  Also, plug into your local Chapter to work on Rise Above Plastics issues and other coastal protection campaigns!