Leading the way is not easy as Californians are discovering. The first state-wide bag ban in the nation was planned to go in full-effect by July, 2015, but is now setback over a year with a referendum that will be held in November, 2016. California recently passed a bill that would require Grocery stores to rid their inventory of plastic bags by July, 2015, followed by Pharmacies and convenience stores in 2016.
But, the bill is now on hold because of organizations like the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), which spent over $3 million to get signatures for the referendum. This is not the first time that Big Money corporations have interfered with laws and campaigns. APBA stated they submitted more than 800,00 signatures, yet only about 500,00 were confirmed. The unfortunate turn out is even more outlandish considering the main forces driving the referendum are not California-based. Companies like South Carolina-based Hilex Poly Co. Inc. and New Jersey-based Formosa Plastics Corp made huge contributions to the campaign, which range from $1.7 million to $400,000, relatively. “It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” said Mark Murray of the group, California vs. Big Plastic. $3.2 million might seem like a lot of money but to Big Plastic, their disruption is a win-win opportunity. Big Plastic makes about $150 million in plastic bag sales in California each year.
So, even if they lose the vote next year they still make up for their $3.2 million “investment”. Anti-bag groups like Californians Against Waste are organizing new programs to educate voters and raise awareness for the issue by the November, 2016 referendum. Read more about it here.