Legal, Plastic Pollution
August 28 2018

Let’s Kick the Plastic Habit, California

by Shannon Waters

As the legislative session wraps up in California, we have a chance to pass several bills that would reduce plastic pollution statewide and help California kick our plastic habit.

The first, SB 1335 or the Sustainable Packaging for the State of California Act, addresses EPS foam (commonly known as “Styrofoam®”) and would require all food service packaging provided at California state parks, beaches, and other state facilities to be reusable, compostable, or recyclable. EPS take-out food packaging and wrappers are some of the most common types of plastic pollution found at California beach cleanups, accounting for over 20% of items picked up at California’s Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017. Most EPS foam take-out food containers cannot be recycled or composted and end up littering our beaches, breaking into smaller pieces, becoming a blight to beach-goers, a threat to wildlife, and costing local communities thousands of tax dollars each year.  According to a 2013 study, the City of San Diego spends $14 million annually and the City of Los Angeles spends $36 million in litter prevention and cleanup. Show your support and take the action alert now and help us spread the word with these social media posts:

  • Preventing plastic pollution is less expensive than cleaning it up! #CAMustLead Yes on #SB1335
  • Food Packaging that is used for only minutes shouldn’t be around forever! #CAMustLead Yes on #SB1335
  • I want to see [ENTER YOUR STATE BEACH OR PARK HERE] clean, not trashed. #CAMustLead Yes on #SB1335

Next up is AB 1884, or Plastic Straws Upon Request, which is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. The bill, which has already been passed by both houses of the California legislature, would require all restaurants in California to offer plastic straws to customers only upon request. That means that when you sit down to eat at a restaurant in California, you’ll get a straw if you ask, but won’t get disposable plastic thrown in your water without your consent. Although this bill is not a comprehensive ban on on plastic straws like San Francisco’s recent ordinance, it is a huge step in the right direction and will reduce the amount of plastic straw waste we send to the landfill each year, or that becomes littered on our streets, parks, and beaches. Take action now and tell the Governor that you support Plastic Straws Upon Request Only!

Earlier this year, China announced that they will no longer be accepting our plastic waste for recycling. This was a big blow to the recycling effort, as a huge percentage of our recyclables are sent overseas. SB 168 (Minimum Recycled Content) would help create a recycling market in-state by requiring that plastic beverage containers be made with a minimum of 20% recycled content. Contact your legislator and let them know you support SB 168 and help us spread this message by posting one of these sample posts on your social sites.

  • To protect recycling with the close of overseas markets, CA must implement closed-loop systems like those proposed in SB 168: bottle-to-bottle recycling. I urge the CA Assembly to vote YES on #SB168 by Senator Wieckowski. #CAMustLead #CloseTheLoop
  • Stop the “downcycling” phenomenon! CA Legislature, vote YES on #SB 68 for bottle-to-bottle recycling in CA! #CAMustLead #CloseTheLoop
  • CA has historically sent 50% of our recycled plastics to China, but that market is now closed with National Sword. We need outlets for our plastic now! #SB168 would implement a common sense solution to ensuring these recyclables aren’t landfilled: Bottle-to-bottle recycling. YES on #SB168! #CAMustLead #CloseTheLoop

Microplastic Solutions!

While the impacts of microfibers and microplastics on marine ecosystems and human health continues to be understood, California is implementing precautionary principle and introducing legislation that will help the public know more about how microplastics impact their lives and directing state agencies to come up with solutions to this emerging and concerning issue.

Senator Portantino introduced two bills this session (SB 1422 and SB 1263) to address microplastic pollution.  Microplastics have been found on beaches, in the bellies of fish, even in beer! SB 1422 would require the State Water Resources Control Board to test annually for microplastics in drinking water and disclose the results to the public. SB 1263 would task the Ocean Protection Council with adopting and implementing a comprehensive litter strategy to address the microplastic problem.

Show your support for all these bills by using these hashtags on your social profiles

  • #CAPlasticsPackage
  • #breakfreefromplastic
  • YES on #SB1335, #AB1884, #SB168, #SB1422, #SB1263, #SB452

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