Last week the Sacramento Bee reported that out of state bag manufacturers had contributed more than $1.2 million for Paid signature gathers to attempt to qualify a referendum repealing SB 270, legislation that would phase-out plastic shopping bags across California over the next 18 months:
Moments after Gov. Jerry Brown announced having signed Senate Bill 270, a plastic industry group that vociferously fought the bill announced its intention to launch a referendum campaign. If proponents secures enough signatures by the end of December, the measure would be placed on the 2016 ballot, suspending the law’s implementation until then.
Five plastic firms accounted for the entirety of the $1.2 million sitting in the referendum’s ballot committee. Only one of them, Tustin-based Durabag Co., is headquartered in California. The other four are located in Texas (Superbag Corp.); South Carolina (Hilex Poly Co.); Mississippi (Heritage Plastics Inc.); and New Jersey (Formosa Plastics Corporation USA).
The industry has until December 30, 2014 to collect more than 500,000 valid signatures of California voters seeking a voter referendum to overturn the law. The referendum, if it qualifies, would appear on the November 2016 ballot. Qualification of a referendum would trigger a suspension of the statewide bag ban, scheduled to begin July 1, 2015.
"In 2013, California consumers spent more than $250 million in higher grocery prices to cover the cost of 13 billion plastic bags," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste. "Consumer choice and local bag bands have certainly reduced the number of plastic bags generated in California to less than 10 billion. But that still represents millions in sales to South Carolina-based Hilex Poly and Texas-based Superbag, and they will do, say, and spend anything to keep those profits."
A referendum would not impact the more than 128 local bag bans currently in place in California, though would--somewhat ironically--suspend a legislative pre-emption on additional local ordinances.
"Whether by consumer choice, retailer action, or local ordinance, we will see an end to plastic grocery bags in California in 2015, said Murray."