Plastic Bag Industry Seeks the ‘Freedom’ to Pollute by Confusing California Voters

by on March 21, 2016 · 1 comment

in Culture, Environment, Health, History, Organizing, Politics

plastic bag ban logoBy Doug Porter

The California legislature passed a ban on many uses of plastic bags back in 2014. Gov. Brown signed it and the American Progressive Bag Alliance, representing bag manufacturers, dumped $3.2 million to get signatures for a referendum on the November 2016 ballot. So now the law is on hold.

Not content with a simple up or down vote on the matter, the industry is now in the process of gathering signatures for a second measure mandating fees from grocery bag sales be used for environmental projects. If you think this sounds too good to be true for an idea ultimately emanating from the dirty energy industry, you’re right.

This second ballot item is aimed at punishing the grocery industry for backing the original statewide ban. What’s even worse is the sales spiel being used by this effort confuses the matter, implying that the 10 cent fee allowed for store-furnished shopping bags is lining the interests of “special interests” and “union bosses.”

The industry would also like us to believe that “confusing” regulations will lead to increased costs to consumers and businesses, and the “free market is the best arbiter of the container.” The 88 billion (with a B) plastic bags that are not recycled annually in the US are just an inconvenient fact.

And this isn’t just a California thing. Check out this excerpt from

Sea turtles ingest plastic bags thinking they are jelly fish which can lead to significant health risks. Photo credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Sea turtles ingest plastic bags thinking they are jelly fish which can lead to significant health risks. Photo credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

A group calling itself the “American Progressive Bag Alliance” (ABPA), a trade group that has been funded by plastics manufacturers like Novolex, the Superbag Corporation, and Advanced Polybag, paid an unknown sum to ALEC to present a “workshop” to policymakers claiming that plastic bag regulations are “ill-advised and deliberately misleading legislation.” That presentation was at the December 2014 ACCE meeting in Washington, D.C.

Attendees of that meeting were also treated to an American Petroleum Institute lobbyist’s presentation that likened local ordinances to bar fracking to “the rise of Hitler and the rise of Fascism.”

APBA also paid to sit alongside local elected officials at the July 2015 ACCE conference in San Diego where the “model” resolution against plastic bag bans was drafted and adopted.

In December 2015, APBA also paid to send its policy chair, Philip Rozenski, to the ACCE meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he claimed to elected officials that plastic bags were actually good for the environment.

More than 100 cities and counties in California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, bans in place. San Diego is one of many other California local governments considering bans.

The industry and its friends in ALEC have a “free market” solution for the local bans. They’ve crafted fill-in-the-blank legislation, already passed in Wisconsin, barring local governments from imposing plastic bag bans.

As noted in this column earlier in the week, signature gatherers are currently camped in front of local retail outlets. You may be told signing this petition will help “save the environment.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.


This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s column at our associated San Diego Free Press.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cecile Lemay March 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Is mfg. plastic bags so important to these people to the point they rather continue to kill the oceans, life in the oceans & on land due the population polluting land & oceans with plastics? Do they not care about their own future generations that the earth will be left to? Until the approx. the 70’s, humans survived fine without all this plastic. Is there some reason they cannot mfg. paper bags, which was very suitable until the 70’s, or another means that is environmentally friendly? Would they rather continue to destroy the planet & life within because they value plastic more than lives, including the ONE & ONLY PLANET WE HAVE TO LIVE ON? Wake up plastic mfg. PLASTIC IS NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN LIVES!! Cecile Lemay Surrey BC


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