By Paul Rogers
Posted: 02/25/2015 – 06:02:48 AM PST

SACRAMENTO — Setting up a grand environmental showdown, a referendum initiated by the plastic-bag industry to overturn California’s first-in-the-nation law that bans supermarkets and other businesses from handing out single-use plastic bags has qualified for next year’s ballot.

The immediate impact of Tuesday’s announcement by Secretary of State Alex Padilla is that the law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, will be suspended until the voters decide its fate in the November 2016 election.

The statewide ban, hailed by environmental groups as a way to reduce litter and ocean pollution, had been scheduled to go into effect in July. But large companies that manufacture plastic grocery bags, led by Hilex Poly of South Carolina, said the measure would harm the state’s economy and that it unfairly allowed grocers to charge customers 10 cents per paper bag.

“California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative,” said Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance.

The alliance launched a campaign to collect more than 800,000 signatures to qualify the referendum.

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