Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans, Expanded Polystyrene Foam
July 24 2012

Illinois, Massachusetts and California Plastic Bills

by Bill Hickman

Three states have four big bills regarding plastic pollution in play and your help is needed!  It's easy, all you have to do is pick up the phone and make a call, then sign and share an online action alert.  In Illinois, a plastic bag recycling bill sits on Governor Quinn's desk waiting for approval or veto.  Everyone usually loves recycling but this bad bag bill is a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing so we are calling for a veto.  In Massachusetts, an extended bottle recycling bill took a big step forward recently despite industry opposition.  In California, a statewide plastic checkout bag ban and separate foam foodware have passed through one arm of legislature and have critical votes coming up in August.

Illinois SB 3442 bill thinly passed the House and State Senate so it now sits on the Governor's desk for final approval or veto.  Under the guise of a measure to increase plastic bag recycling (by .1%!), the bill prohibits local governments with populations smaller than 2 million (essentially every city but Chicago) from passing a bag ban.  Plastic bag recycling has been proven ineffective and cities should be able to maintain local rights for a bag ban if the state is not ready to pursue one.  This bill is widely supported by plastic manufacturers, which is a red flag to me that it's trouble.

Ask Governor Quinn to veto this horrible bill by signing our action alert.   Call the Governor's office also if you can and ask them to "Please ask Governor Quinn to VETO SB 3442 and pursue more meaningful plastic waste and litter reductions."  (217-782-6830 or 312-814-2121)  Cheers to the Surfrider Chicago Chapter for their efforts on this campaign.

In Massachusetts, an expansion of their existing bottle recycling bill to include bottled water and most other non-carbonated beverages recently passed through the State Senate, the first time it has passed either chamber in 14 years!  In order for the Bottle Bill to make it to the floor the State House of Representatives conference committee to include it in their "compromise version".  Bottle bills are a proven way to greatly increase recycling while reducing litter.

If you live in Massachusetts, sign this online action alert from our friends at Sierra Club to urge House Speaker Robert DeLeo to include the bottle bill amendment in the house version of the final conference committee bill.  Click Here to find your local representative to give their office a call with the same message.  Cheers to the Surfrider Massachusetts Chapter for their efforts on this campaign.

In California, SB 568 and AB 298 are groundbreaking plastic source reduction bills that would lead to cleaner beaches, parks and sensitive areas statewide along with less plastic entering the ocean.

The California State Senate passed SB 568 in 2011 and it needs to be voted on by the State Assembly by August 31st, 2012. This bill would phase out expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and drink containers at restaurants statewide by 2015. Please tell your State Assemblymember to support this bill to clean up our beaches and support sustainable foodware products by phasing out the use of foam containers by restaurants and other food vendors.  Click Here to sign and share our SB 568 action alert.

The California State Legislature is also considering a bill that would ban plastic checkout bags at supermarkets, retail pharmacies and convenience stores statewide starting in 2014. Assembly Bill 298 would also require those retailers to provide reusable bags for sale and charge a fee for recycled paper bags as an incentive for customers to remember their reusable bags. California could be the first in the nation to pass a statewide plastic bag ban but it won't happen without your support!  Click Here for our campaign page with more info on the bill and an online action alert for you to sign and share.