SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Californians have voted to enact a state law to ban plastic shopping bags, the first state in the nation to do so. Proposition 67, the referendum on the state law (Senate Bill 270) passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2014, is leading by 52-48 percent. The law had been challenged by the out-of-state plastic bag industry, which spent more than $6 million to defeat it, says California vs. Big Plastic.

California vs. Big Plastic

The plastic bag manufacturers have issued a statement conceding.

Proposition 65, another measure put on the ballot by the plastic bag industry, was defeated by a 10-point margin, 55-45%.

“California voters have taken a stand against a deceptive, multi-million dollar campaign by out-of-state plastic bag makers,” said Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, co-chair of the campaign. “This is a significant environmental victory that will mean an immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that are polluted in California every day, threatening wildlife.”

“This is a tremendous victory for California,” said Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “We were pleased to stand in support of Proposition 67. Despite the millions of dollars that out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers spent to defeat the measure, Californians stood together and prevailed. Now, California can finally implement its first-in-the-nation law to reduce a source of plastic pollution—and protect our ocean, coast and marine wildlife.”

“This is a victory for our oceans and marine life, and for communities all over California dealing with the blight of plastic pollution in their neighborhoods,” said Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder of Azul. “Latino/a communities have a culture of conservation, and a long tradition of using reusable bags. We are excited to see voters’ support for banning plastic bags once and for all.”

“The passage of Prop 67 sends a powerful message to out-of-state plastics manufacturers that California’s environmental protections are not for sale,” said Sarah Rose CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. “Once again Californians voiced their strong support for bold environmental leadership to move our state and our country forward.”

The law will take effect immediately. It was originally designed to take effect on July 1, 2015 for grocery stores and July 1, 2016 for other retailers.

More than 151 California communities already have local plastic bags in place. The passage of Prop 67 extends the ban to the remainder of the state.

The Yes vote on Prop 67 was backed by a diverse coalition of more than 500 organizations, ranging from environmental groups to business organizations and dozens of cities and counties. They included: Environment California, Heal the Bay, the NAACP, Save the Bay, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the California League of Cities, Azul, and the California Labor Federation. The Yes campaign also received the support of more than 40 newspapers.

“This is also an important victory for the grass roots, said Murray, who noted the Yes campaign was outspent by more than 4-1 ($6.1 million to $1.5 million). “Special interests are losing their ability to use big money to deceive California voters at the ballot box.”

More than 40 percent of California communities are already living without plastic shopping bags through local ordinance.

“Consumers love this policy,” said Murray. “In the 12 California Counties that have already banned plastic bags, was overwhelming, with better than 66% of voters saying yes to Prop 67, and an end to polluting plastic shopping bags.”

More than 70 percent of the Yes on 67 campaign’s funding came from environmental contributors. More than 4,000 individual contributors donated to the campaign. The plastic bag industry had just four contributors.