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Referendum May Put Bag Ban On Hold In California

California voters may get a chance to overturn the state’s plastic bag ban if enough signatures are turned in by Monday’s deadline.

“Plastic bag manufacturers stand to sell 9 billion additional plastic bags simply by gathering enough signatures for a ballot measure to repeal the state’s plastic bag ban,” the OC Register reported on Sunday. (RELATED: Activists Present Case against California Bag Ban)

The ban, which would prohibit the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and supermarkets, and would also require that paper bags have at least 40 percent recycled content, was passed by the General Assembly in August and is scheduled to take effect on July 1.

However, if opponents gather enough signatures — slightly more than 500,000 — a referendum on repeal will be placed on the ballot for November 2016, and under state law, the ban cannot be implemented until after that vote is held.

According to the group Californians Against Waste, which supports the ban, “At least 128 California cities and counties have banned plastic shopping bags,” as have 58 cities and counties outside of California. As a result, roughly one-third of Californians already live in a community that prohibits single-use plastic bags. (RELATED: Baltimore Considering Plastic Bag Ban)

The group estimates that if opponents succeed in forcing a referendum, thereby postponing the ban for an additional 16 months, it would result in the creation of $145 million worth of bags that would otherwise be banned.

LA Weekly claims opponents of the ban are expected to turn in more than 700,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify for a referendum, but also cites, “a recent poll of 600 California voters that found 60 percent would vote ‘yes’ to reaffirm the ban.” (RELATED: Bag Ban Leads to Nationwide Increase in Shoplifting Rates)

However, Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Plastic Bag Alliance, believes those numbers will changes as voters become more informed about the issue. “When consumers understand that this is a cash grab by the grocers, they oppose this horrible legislation,” he told the OC Register.

Daniels cited internal polling purportedly showing that voters tend to oppose the ban when they are told “grocers will make millions from selling paper bags” because the law requires stores to charge customers no less than 10 cents per paper bag.

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