Capitol Alert

California plastic bag ban backers launch ads

The ad criticizing a move to repeal a plastic bag ban will appear online.
The ad criticizing a move to repeal a plastic bag ban will appear online. Advertisement provided by CA vs. Big Plastic

Hoping to fend off a referendum campaign from their better-funded rivals, advocates for California’s newly passed plastic bag ban have launched an ad assailing a plastics company seeking to overturn the law.

Gov. Jerry Brown had scarcely lifted his pen from a bitterly contested bill gradually phasing out single-use plastic bags before a group called the American Progressive Bag Alliance announced a referendum campaign to halt the law. They have until the end of December to acquire enough signatures, an effort funded by the $2.7 million that plastics companies – nearly all headquartered outside of California – have poured into the campaign.

Environmental groups have given $32,500 to date toward shielding the bag ban from a referendum. “CA vs. Big Plastic” has now plunked down some of that to purchase an ad slamming South Carolina-based Hilex Poly, which has given $1.7 million so far to the anti-ban committee.

“Meet One of California’s Biggest Polluters,” the text of the ad reads. “Wind Point Partners-owned Novolex/HilexPoly is spending millions on a campaign to overturn California’s plastic bag ban. Tell them to stop.”

The digital ad will appear on news websites and social media venues such as Facebook. It is aimed at dissuading Californians from signing petitions that signature gatherers are pitching at grocery stores around the state, said CA vs. Big Plastic spokesman Steven Maviglio.

“There’s only a few weeks left for them to get their signatures, and we want to make sure voters know exactly what they’re signing – that the money is coming from an out-of-state corporation that’s only interested in their bottom line,” Maviglio said.

If the referendum qualifies for the ballot, the law will be suspended until voters go to the polls in 2016, effectively giving the industry a two-year reprieve. Supporters of a statewide ban acknowledge that possibility is likely and have focused efforts on convincing more municipalities to adopt their own local bans. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson launched a push this week.

A spokesman for Hilex Poly was not immediately available for comment.

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