Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans, Expanded Polystyrene Foam
September 04 2012

Cheap Plastic Keeps Flowing In CA After Legislators Fail To Act

by Bill Hickman

Late last week both of the statewide plastic reduction bills weaving through the California legislature failed last week.  While it’s a bummer these plastic litter reduction bills did not pass, it was great to see the efforts of Surfrider Foundation Chapter activists in some of the target districts:  San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Ventura, West LA, South Bay, Huntington, Newport, South OC and San Diego activists all stepped up with good messaging to supporters, meetings with legislators and/or staff along with phone trees and great press events.

Big thanks to all of the coalition partners working on advancing the bills such as Clean Water Action, Heal The Bay, Environment CA, SLO and SD Coastkeeper, Californians Against Waste and many more.

SB 568, the foam foodware phase out, was brought to the Assembly floor for a vote on Friday afternoon after passing the Senate last year with bipartisan support. The final vote was 26-45 and 41 ayes are needed to pass.  Click Here to see how your local Assemblymember voted.

AB 298, the bag ban bill, did not reach the Senate floor for a vote.  At the end of the day there were a few holdouts and the Senate President could not bring it up on the floor for consideration.

While statewide legislation can have the biggest impact, the groundswell of local ordinances is making big news and having a positive impact that we need to sustain to help protect the coast and much more.  There are over 100 plastic bag and plastic foam ordinances throughout California alone.  Surfrider Foundation Chapters will continue to work for local plastic reduction ordinances along with a sustained focus on plastic pollution community outreach and education.

Now is the time to get involved and help make a difference in your community.  Find your local Surfrider Foundation Chapter and check out an upcoming event or chapter meeting.

Here’s a piece from one of our coalition members on the foam foodware phase out that helps to sum it up:


Yesterday the environment lost. Our tiny blue planet was betrayed by the very humans whose life it sustains. A moment of promise and hope was denied as 41 members of the California Assembly championed the virtues of Styrofoam, defeating Senate Bill 568. What's done is done and today we have to pick up the pieces and move on. Unfortunately, tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and after that again, we will still be picking up the pieces, thousands, millions and billions of tiny pieces of expanded polystyrene foam; plastic pollution that will continue to litter our creeks and streams and rivers and lakes, and accumulate on our beaches and ultimately in the ocean. Yesterday the environment lost, and so did we.

Matthew Spiegl
Salinas, CA