Will Bag the Ban Pass?

By RJ Winberg

Where do you stand on the plastic bag ban?

Those free plastic bags they give you when you check out at just about every retail shop. You know, the ones you see riddled throughout city streets, blowing in the wind along nearly highway, and floating in the ocean, endangering marine life. There have been a number of cities throughout the country that have enacted bans on these plastic bags and put laws in place to encourage the use of re-usable shopping bags.

As it turns out, these bans have been quite successful. However, sometimes these efforts can get a little derailed. For example, Huntington Beach, CA was the first city to repeal a ban on plastic bags that had already been in effect. Huntington Beach passed their plastic ban measure back in 2013. But, when Mike Posey was elected the city council succeeded in repealing the ban in 2015.

“I think it’s a terrible idea, honestly,” said John Hehl, a resident of Huntington Beach at the time. “I have noticed a decrease in bags around town, that’s for sure. I don’t know what these people are thinking.”

For you to decide where you stand on an issue like this it is important to hear both sides of the story. Supporters of the "Bag the Ban" movement make several claims as to the environmental advantages of single-use plastic bags. First, is the claim that reusable bags come with a larger carbon footprint as more fuel and materials are consumed during manufacturing than with single-use bags. They also note that single-use plastic bags are made from natural gas, rather than oil, which helps reduce the carbon footprint. Another point is that the plastic bag industry employs over 24,000 people and what will happen to them if the industry collapses?

However, whether or not specific cities in the golden state decide to ban plastic bags may soon become a mute point. California passed a law in 2014 that would institute a statewide ban on plastic bags. As expected there has been considerable push-back from the plastic industry and a referendum has been put on the ballot for 2016. This means that come November, California voters will ultimately get to decide whether or not to ban plastic bags at retail stores.

The "Bag the Ban" campaign will most certainly be a heated one with the plastic industry expected to spend $30-40 million to try and win over California voters.

What do you think California will choose to do?