The statewide ban on plastic bags had already made it through the State Assembly and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had hinted he would sign the measure if it passed the senate.
But late Tuesday night, at the very end of their legislative session, state senators voted it down.
The millions of dollars spent on this slick t-v commercial paid off for plastic bag manufacturers.
Late Tuesday night California lawmakers rejected a bill that would have banned plastic shopping bags statewide.
"We need to get our message out. This is a big issue. This has ramifications beyond California if it were to pass here," said Tim Shestek with the American Chemistry Council, "We make a product that we think has a good environmental footprint, that's fully recyclable, that's being demonized by folks on the other side."
The bill's author wanted the ban to take effect in supermarkets and large retail stores in 2012 and smaller stores by 2013. But Tuesday night the bill received just 14 votes in the senate, seven short of the majority it needed.
"I've never witnessed this kind of opposition to a bill," said Assm. Julia Brownley (D) Santa Monica.
Californians use 19-billion plastic bags a year. A handful of California cities already ban single-use plastic bags, after San Francisco became the first to do so in 2007. Palo Alto, Malibu and Fairfax have since followed, while a ban approved in Manhattan Beach is tied up in court.
Environmentalists lament the litter the bags cause. Experts estimate it takes at least 1,000 years for a standard plastic bag to breakdown in a landfill.
A state law that took effect in 2007 already requires supermarkets and other large retailers to provide plastic bag recycling bins. But only a small fraction of plastic bags actually get recycled.