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Plastic Bag Ban Opponents Turn In Referendum Signatures

A plastic shopping bag litters the roadside in Sacramento, Oct. 25, 2013.
Associated Press
A plastic shopping bag litters the roadside in Sacramento, Oct. 25, 2013.

Plastic Bag Ban Opponents Turn In Referendum Signatures
Plastic Bag Ban Opponents Turn In Referendum Signatures

The battle over whether to ban single-use plastic bags in California looks like it’ll continue for two more years. Opponents of the law signed by Governor Jerry Brown this fall said they’re turning in enough signatures to force a voter referendum in November 2016.

Assuming the referendum has enough valid signatures to qualify, California’s statewide plastic bag ban won’t take effect as scheduled in July. Instead, it’ll only take effect if voters approve the law a year and a half later.

“Any delay of bad legislation is a good delay,” said Jon Berrier with the association that represents plastic bag manufacturers. He said the ban would force consumers to pay for paper bags – but the proceeds wouldn’t help the environment.

“This money goes 100 percent to the grocers and it’s a profit stream that will ultimately make them billions of dollars,” Berrier said.

But Mark Murray with Californians Against Waste said plastic bags pollute the environment and never biodegrade. “The plastic bag manufacturers are the only ones with a profit motive on this issue. They’re the ones selling $200 million worth of plastic bags into California,” he said.

Murray said environmental groups will fight the referendum – and push for more local plastic bag bans until California voters can settle the issue.

Solana Beach is the only city in San Diego County that has a bag ban in effect. It has had a ban on plastic bags for grocers and food vendors since August 2012 and for all other stores since November 2012. Encinitas passed a bag ban in August that is set to take effect early next year, according to U-T San Diego. The city of San Diego was considering a ban on plastic bags before the California ban was passed.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.