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Landmark plastic bag ban officially on hold

The nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags will not go into effect this summer after all. The California secretary of state’s office announced Tuesday that a referendum to overturn the measure has qualified for the November 2016 ballot.

The state confirmed that the trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) submitted at least 110 percent of the 504,760 verified signatures it needed to qualify its measure to overturn the plastic bag ban, the Los Angeles Times reported. As such, the landmark law is now on hold until California voters weigh in next year.

Approved by California Governor Jerry Brown (D) last September and originally slated to go into effect this July, the ban would require grocers to charge at least 10 cents for each recycled paper bag or reusable bag given to consumers. The law also provides $2 million in competitive loans to help plastic bag manufacturers convert their businesses to manufacture reusable bags.

The plastic bag industry has argued that the ban has nothing to do with the environment and was a ploy by the California Grocers Association to make money off the 10-cent fee.

“Today is an important day for tens of thousands of families across the country that are supported by the American plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry,” APBA executive director Lee Califf said in a press release. “It’s outrageous that California legislators voted to kill California jobs just to line the pockets of big grocers and their labor union supporters. But the APBA is proud to defend these workers and we remain confident California voters will reject the bag ban scam at the ballot box in November 2016.”

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