Capitol Alert

Plastic industry gives $1.2 million to repeal bag ban

A woman walks with a plastic bag in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.
A woman walks with a plastic bag in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. AP

Out-of-state plastic companies hoping to block California’s freshly signed ban on single-use plastic bags have poured over $1 million into a referendum campaign.

Moments after Gov. Jerry Brown announced having signed Senate Bill 270, a plastic industry group that vociferously fought the bill announced its intention to launch a referendum campaign. If proponents secures enough signatures by the end of December, the measure would be placed on the 2016 ballot, suspending the law’s implementation until then.

Five plastic firms accounted for the entirety of the $1.2 million sitting in the referendum’s ballot committee. Only one of them, Tustin-based Durabag Co., is headquartered in California. The other four are located in Texas (Superbag Corp.); South Carolina (Hilex Poly Co.); Mississippi (Heritage Plastics Inc.); and New Jersey (Formosa Plastics Corporation USA).

The national scope of the donations speaks to the potentially sweeping repercussions of California’s ban. Bag manufacturers could be shut out of a vast market, although municipalities throughout California have already enacted bans. And in part because of California’s size and influence, policies passed in the state often ripple out to other parts of the country.

If the referendum fails to qualify, large grocery stores must cease offering plastic bags at the checkout aisle by July 2015. Smaller stores would need to follow suit by July 2016. Stores could still charge at least 10 cents for paper or reusable plastic bags, a provision that critics denounced as a wealth transfer to the grocers and retailers groups that backed SB 270.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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