Nov 1 - Poll Shows Strong Support for Plastic Bag Ban

Out-of-State plastic bag makers and chemical companies should abandon referendum

A new USC/LA Times poll shows that Californians support the state's new plastic bag ban by nearly a 2-1 margin.

"Californians strongly support the new law because they can see first-hand the litter on our streets and in our oceans, rivers, and waterways and the tragic affect on wildlife from the proliferation of plastic bags," said Californians Against Waste Executive Director Mark Murray, the sponsor of the new law. "Since it is clear that the law enjoys deep, intense support among voters that even a $30 million campaign won't be able to change, the out-of-state plastic bag companies pouring millions into a campaign destined to fail should abandon their effort."

The poll showed solid support for the ban even after the opponent's leading arguments were used to try to move voters. Said pollster Drew Lieberman, vice president of Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, "This is something that people generally like, that they adjust to pretty quickly, and it will be tough to overturn. At this point, it doesn’t look like there’s a strong opposition argument that changes people’s minds."

In addition, Murray noted the poll showed voters in communities with bans were more likely to support the statewide ban, 69-28%. More than 128 communities in the state already have bans. The new law provides a uniform, statewide solution to the rest of the state, modeled after the local ordinances already in place and successfully implemented.

If the plastic companies submit the necessary amount of signatures by December 30th, 2014 and freeze implementation of the law, Murray says dozens more of California communities will enact bans on their own. That, he says, will make the law even more popular when it is on the ballot in November 2016.

According to the California Secretary of State, plastic bag companies have contributed more than $1,835,000 to a referendum effort. South Carolina-based Hilex Poly and the Chinese corporation Formosa Plastics are among the leading contributors to that effort.

Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate Bill 270 by State Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), became the first plastic bag ban approved by a state legislature in the nation.

For the plastic bag, introduced in the 1970s and now ubiquitous in our streets and creeks, its lightweight and easily airborne characteristics made it problematic even when thrown away in a trash can or garbage truck.

The new prohibits grocery stores, drugstores, and convenience stores from distributing single-use plastic bags, going into effect first in large grocery stores in July of 2015. Stores can sell paper, durable reusable bags, and compostable bags with a minimum charge of 10 cents each. The 10 cent charge is to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags. The bill also seeks to protect and create green jobs by creating standards and incentives for plastic bag manufacturers to transition to making reusable bags.

Californians Against Waste is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving resources, preventing pollution and protecting the environment through the development, promotion and implementation of waste reduction and recycling policies and programs.