By Steven Maviglio
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and legislative leaders today joined more than 400 business, environmental, and local citizen groups in celebrating the two-year anniversary of the signing of Senate Bill 270, the state’s plastic bag ban, urging voters to support Proposition 67, the referendum on the law that will appear on the November ballot.
Implementation of the law was halted by plastic bag companies from Texas, South Carolina, and China. They have spent more than $6 million to stop it from going to effect. The law had effective dates of January 1, 2015 (for grocery stores) and January 1, 2016 (for all other retailers).
A “Yes” vote on the referendum means the law will be upheld and go into effective immediately. A “No” vote overturns the law.
Since that the bill was signed by the Governor, an estimated 25 billion more plastic bags have been distributed in the state. Less than five percent of them have been recycled. The remainder end up in the ocean and in rivers, littering landscapes, or blowing out of landfills.
At the time of the signing, Governor Brown noted “This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself. We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Some 151 California communities, covering about half of the state’s population, have their own local bans including 19 that have enacted them since the Governor signed SB 270. In addition, hundreds of communities and nations around the globe have enacted plastic bag bans based on the California legislation.
“Proposition 67 will ensure that California will lead the way in reducing the scourge of plastic bags and closing the loop on the plastic waste stream, all while maintaining – and growing – California jobs,” said Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), a joint author of the law. “I am confident Californians will stand up to the out-of-state companies trying to hijack our initiative system solely to fatten their bottom lines.”
“It’s time for Californians to ban these flimsy bags that pollute our ocean and kill marine wildlife once and for all,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). “We lived without these plastic bags for generations. Prop 67 will ensure future generations will live without them too.”
“The adoption of the statewide plastic bag ban in California two years ago was the culmination of a long and hard-fought grassroots effort,” said Ann Notthoff, California Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. “While out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers have succeeded in postponing implementation of the ban statewide, we welcome the opportunity for California voters to weigh in on their support for this policy to eliminate a costly and deadly source of plastic pollution.”
“Every day that California’s plastic bag is delayed means 25 million plastic million more plastic shopping bags are discharged into the environment,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste. “And after the 15 minutes it takes to carry our groceries from the check stand to home, those plastic bags will persist as pollution in our landfills, creeks, rivers and the ocean for decades. Enough is enough.”
Proposition 67 is supported by more than 400 organizations. They include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, California Labor Federation, Heal the Bay, League of Women Voters of California, and the California League of Cities.