September 01 2010
Last night, with at 21-14 vote, the California State Senate failed to pass AB 1998—a bill that would have banned single-use plastic carryout bags statewide.
The passing of AB 1998 would have been a monumental victory for the Surfrider Foundation and for its California Chapters who have fought for years to eliminate plastic bags with their Rise Above Plastics campaign. Regardless, they will continue to educate and inform the public about the hazards single-use plastics pose to the environment and the economy.
“We are dismayed that this proactive environmental bill, which was passed by the Assembly and had the pledged support of the Governor, could not make it past our California State Senate,” says Angela Howe, Surfrider Foundation’s Managing Attorney. “We see these single-use plastic bags littering our streets, parks, and waterways, and they’re found at every beach clean up. In fact, volunteers picked up over 70,000 of these bags on California beaches in one day.”
Californians consume upwards of 19 million plastic bags per year, which require approximately 8 million barrels of oil to produce. Consumers pay for these bags in hidden costs, in taxes to cover clean up costs, and worse in harm to the environment. Less than 5% of plastic bags are ever recycled, and those that aren’t all too often make their way into our oceans where they pose a threat to wildlife and never fully decompose.
Under AB 1998, grocery stores and pharmacies would no longer have been able to provide plastic bags at point of sale, and would have been required to regulate the distribution of paper bags by charging for the bags at cost. They would also have been required to have reusable bags for sale at reasonable prices starting in 2013. Plastic bags for transporting produce and raw meat to checkout would still have been available.
Over 40 countries and municipalities, including San Francisco, Malibu, and Palo Alto, have successfully banned plastic carryout bags, and more cities throughout California and the United States are expected to push for similar bans.