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California’s Bag Ban Is Under Attack

CA vs Big Plastic

California’s Bag Ban Is Under Attack


Did you think California finally banned single-use plastic bags when the governor signed SB270 into law on September 30th? Think again. The ink was barely dry when plastic bag manufacturers began a push for a referendum to overturn it. 

The Progressive Bag Alliance, a group of (all but one) out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers,, spent more than 3.8 million dollars (98% raised out of state) from October through December to gather over 800,000 sigatures, paying the army of signature gatherers up to $3.50 per signature. And it wasn't above using deception to get petition signatures. Many of the talking points that were used by the gatherers were misleading or false.

If the CA Secretary of State's office validates 505,000 signatures (expected to know spring of 2015), the referendum to overturn SB270 will go on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide. That will put the law on hold for an additional 16 months, allowing billions more single-use plastic bags to be sold in the state. The plastic bag manufacturers stand to gain up to $200 million in sales by imposing the lengthy delay. 

Along with our partners, the Surfrider Foundation launched a campaign to fight back. CA vs Big Plastic, a coalition of environmental, labor and business groups supporting the ban, issued a press release in response. The coalition filed a complaint with the CA Secretary of State's office, evidencing that the referendum proponents were misleading citizens in attempts to get them to sign their petitions. An immediate investigation into these disturbing reports of voter fraud was requested.

The good news is that a recent L.A. Times poll shows that 6 out of 10 Californians support the ban. We can all continue to do our part, by helping to raise the awareness and educate those around us about the impact of plastic checkout bags and plastic pollution in our marine environment. We need to show up in large numbers at the ballot box in November 2016.

Finally, if the CA Secretary of State validates 505,000 signatures and the referendum goes on the Nov 2016 ballot, then local jurisdictions can start passing their own plastic bag ordinances again. Keep your eye out for more information on our efforts to get a City of San Diego Plastic Bag Ordinance passed in 2015.

Stay tuned for updates on this issue. Keep updated via CA vs Big Plastic's Facebook page and CA vs Big Plastic website. With your help, we can fight off the plastics industry and once and for all ban the bag in California!

Below are misleading and false statements that are being made by the Progressive Bag Alliance. Be armed with information to counter their deception!

“Stop the plastic bag ban and tax.”

There is no tax. Californians support the ban by a 2-1 margin.

“The California Legislature voted to ban recyclable plastic bags and mandated grocers must charge a fee for paper and thicker plastic bags.”

Only about 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled.

“Grocery stores could make as much as $400 million more every year by charging customers a 10-cent fee for every bag they use.”

The 10-cent fee may be spent only on costs of complying with the law, providing recycled paper or reusable bags, and educational materials encouraging use of reusable bags. Grocery stores won’t profit.

But the plastics industry will profit by forcing a referendum. If enough signatures are gathered to put this issue on the ballot in November 2016, the law will be delayed an additional 16 months, and plastic bag manufacturers could make as much as $200 million by selling up to 17 billion more plastic bags.

“This bill will cost consumers millions of dollars every year just to buy thicker plastic bags or paper bags stores already provided and include in their cost of doing business.”

The fee does not provide additional profit for stores. Customers can choose to bring their own reusable bags, which are being distributed for free by groups like Surfrider and by the city of San Diego.

“It will also threaten 2,000 California manufacturing jobs – at companies that currently produce recyclable plastic bags in California.”

Companies throughout the state are expanding or adding reusable bag manufacturing and creating jobs. Four of the five plastic manufacturers behind the “Progressive Bag Alliance” have no facilities or employees in California.

“Even worse, SB270 does nothing to help the environment, since the bag tax goes to grocery store profits and has no environmental purpose.”

The nominal fee goes to costs of providing bags and not to store profits. 128 cities and counties in California have already banned single-use plastic bags, and those localities have seen a reduction in bag litter. Americans throw away 100 billion bags each year and the bags are the major source of human-related debris on the seabed.

Reusable bags made from recycled polyethylene use 50% less energy, have 40% less impact on greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste resources, and use 30% less water than single-use plastic bags.

“SB270 was a backroom special interest deal made in Sacramento to help boost grocery store profits.”

Again, the 10-cent fee may be spent only on costs of complying with the law, providing recycled paper or reusable bags, and educational materials encouraging use of reusable bags. It does not boost store profits.

A majority of Californians support the ban. We don’t need to vote on it, and we don’t need to delay it so that out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers can profit while adding litter to our environment.