The battle over whether to ban single-use plastic bags in California looks like it’ll continue for two more years. Opponents of the law signed by Governor Jerry Brown this fall say they’re turning in enough signatures to force a voter referendum in November 2016.
Assuming the referendum has enough valid signatures to qualify, California’s statewide plastic bag ban won’t take effect as scheduled in July. Instead, it’ll only take effect if voters approve the law a year-and-a-half later.
“Any delay of bad legislation is a good delay,” says Jon Berrier with the association that represents plastic bag manufacturers. He says the ban would force consumers to pay for paper bags – but the proceeds wouldn’t help the environment.
“This money goes 100 percent to the grocers and it’s a profit-stream that will ultimately make them billions of dollars,” Berrier says.
But Mark Murray with Californians Against Waste says plastic bags pollute the environment and never biodegrade. “The plastic bag manufacturers are the only ones with a profit motive on this issue. They’re the ones selling $200 million worth of plastic bags into California,” he says.
Murray says environmental groups will fight the referendum – and push for more local plastic bag bans until California voters can settle the issue.