Opponents of California's ban on plastic bags turned in enough signatures to force a referendum that could overturn the law, according to the American Progressive Bag Alliance.
Lee Califf, APBA's executive director, said the group collected more than 800,000 signatures from California voters.
The deadline to turn in the petitions is Dec. 29.
“We are confident the Secretary of State's office will verify the required 504,760 signatures to qualify the referendum for the November 2016 ballot,” Califf said in a news release.
California is the first to enact a state-wide ban on plastic bags. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill, known as Senate Bill 270, into law on Sept. 30.
Under the 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.
But that's all moot if the Secretary of State certifies that APBA gathered enough signatures on its petitions. If the referendum goes to the 2016 ballot, the law would be put on hold until after that election.
Plastic bag makers fund APBA, which is affiliated with the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
APBA has been critical of efforts to paint the issue as being a fight between the plastics industry and the environment.
“SB 270 was never a bill about the environment. It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees without providing any public benefit,” Califf said in the news release.
But the environmental group Californians Against Waste highlighted the dispute as California vs. “Big Plastic,” calling plastic bag makers “out-of-state polluters.”
“After spending more than $3.1 million, 98 percent of which was raised from out of state, it is clear that the plastic bag industry is more interested in their own profits than reducing an unnecessary source of pollution and waste that threaten California's wildlife and pollutes our ocean, coast, and our communities,” said CAW's Mark Murray, in a news release.
“Californians overwhelmingly support the law, and the $30 million to $50 million it will cost the plastics industry to launch a full-fledged campaign in 2016 if the measure qualifies will be proven to be an act of political malpractice, particularly since nearly half the state will no longer have plastic bags by election day.”