Gov. Jerry Brown (D) made it official today: plastic bags are banned across the entire state of California.
But opponents of the law still have some fight left in them.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), one of the key opposition groups which has cast the bill as job killer and cash-grab by grocers groups, plans to take the matter to the voters themselves next November.
“Fortunately, California's constitution provides voters the opportunity to stop bad laws through the referendum process. Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags. So we have taken the necessary steps to gather signatures and qualify a referendum to repeal SB 270 on the November 2016 ballot,” said APBA Executive Director Lee Califf in a Tuesday statement.
“Since state lawmakers failed their constituents by approving this terrible bill, we will take the question directly to the public and have great faith they will repeal it at the ballot box. Ultimately the voters will decide and, until then, California families — including thousands of our industry's workers — will be protected from the implementation of this unprecedented scam.”
Much like the 11th hour retooling of the bill that got it through the state legislature, Brown waited until the last possible day to sign the measure into law.
Under the new law, single-use plastic bags will be prohibited as of July 1, 2015, and Californians will pay a minimum of 10 cents for each reusable plastic or recycled paper bag at grocery stores.
In 2016, the ban will extend to pharmacies and liquor stores. “Reusable” bags are defined by the law as those designed for at least 125 uses and made of at least 25 percent recycled plastic. Eventually, the recycled-content requirement will go up to 40 percent.
“California policy makers have made a clear statement in enacting the bag ban: Producers are responsible for the end of life impacts of their products,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a major supporter of the bill. “If a product is too costly to society and the environment, California is prepared to move to eliminate it.”
California is the first to enact a state-wide ban on plastic bags, though the county-by-county bans in Hawaii have created a de facto state-wide ban, as well.