Group launches new ads to derail California plastic bag ban

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American Progressive Bag Alliance The American Progressive Bag Alliance uses clowns in a new ad aimed and halting a bag ban in California.

As the California state legislature prepares to close out its legislative session, opponents to a bill that would ban single-use thin film bags at retailers statewide are turning up the heat.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) launched a six-figure online, television and radio ad blitz in Sacramento, building on an ad campaign begun in May to oppose Senate Bill 270, the latest in a years-long string of bag ban attempts, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacioma).

“SB 270 is perhaps the most flawed and intentionally misleading bill currently in front of the California legislature,” said Lee Califf, APBA executive director. “We are running these new ads to encourage Californians to call their legislators in opposition to a bill that will kill manufacturing jobs and scam consumers so grocers can collect billions in bag fees from their customers, without providing any public benefit.”

The first ad, “Clowns,” highlights what APBA calls “the ridiculousness and environmental hypocrisy” of the bill, which, if passed, would mean Californians would pay at least 10 cents at grocery stores for each reusable plastic or recycled paper bag from the grocery store, and single-use plastic bags would be prohibited under the bill. “Reusable” bags would be defined as those rated for 125 uses — which APBA points out are five times thicker and much worse for the environment than traditional single-use grocery bags — and made of at least 20 percent recycled plastic at first, ultimately going up to 40 percent recycled content. In 2016, the prohibition would be extended to pharmacies and liquor stores, if the bill passes.

The second ad, called “Scam,” calls the bill “a dirty deal” and a “bag scam” between politicians and the California Grocers Association that would line their pockets with campaign donations and fees while costing consumers money and some of the more than 2,000 plastic bag manufacturing and recycling jobs in the state.

“The plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry will continue to advocate for our employees in the face of misguided, job-killing legislation,” Califf said. “And we continue to call on members of the legislature and key stakeholders to work collaboratively on a responsible approach that protects jobs and consumers, while also benefiting the environment.”

The bill is the ninth crack at a statewide bag ban in California, this time with the support of the grocers association and a provision that seeks to addresses industry opposition to previous attempts by creating a $2 million grant pool from state recycling funds. Plastic bag makers would be able to apply for grants to retrain workers or reorganize operations to make bags that would meet the new state-wide requirements.

The APBA's clown-themed advertisement.