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California Versus Big Plastic Campaign Launched

Jeff Barnard / AP

Jeff Barnard / AP

The first statewide ban [SB 270] on single-use shopping bags is scheduled to take effect at large grocery stores by July 2015 and the bags would be phased out of convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. 

In early October, opponents started collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to repeal the California ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.

But if opponents collect 500,000 signatures by the end of December to qualify a referendum for the November 2016 ballot, the ban would be put on hold until voters consider the issue.

"We have consumers and grocery stores that are prepared to abandon plastic bags on or before July 1, 2015 if this referendum moves forward," said Mark Murray, with the California vs. Big Plastic campaign. "Our goal is to have no plastic grocery bags in the state of California, by the time, if this gets on the ballot, by the time it gets on the ballot in November 2016."

Murray said in response to the referendum, his group plans to push for more local bans on plastic bags.

He said there are currently 128 city and county bag bans.

San Francisco, Davis and Los Angeles are among the cities with plastic grocery bag bans.

Melissa Porter represents California-based Grocery Outlet, a group of independent west coast grocery stores. Porter said one clear policy, rather than different bans, works best for the group's 100 California stores. 

"It's just a complexity that makes business harder, all these different municipal ordinances," said Porter. 

A coalition of plastic bag manufacturers is pushing the referendum. 

The American Progressive Bag Alliance said the California's plastic grocery bag ban will cost jobs. When Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 270 in September, the Alliance said the legislation to ban single-use plastic bags is "not about the environment." 

"It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit all under the guise of environmentalism, said APBA Executive Director Lee Califf.

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