FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE 8/14/2012

Contact:  Marisa Espinoza
Organization:  Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter
Phone: (619) 370-9953
 
Contact:  Dan Jacobson
Organization:  Environment California

Contact:  Christina Di Leva
Organization:  Office of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher
Phone: (619) 865-3622
 
Surfrider Foundation and Assemblyman Fletcher Support Bill to Ban Plastic Bags Statewide By 2015
Legislation Would Make California First in the Nation to Pass Ban
 
San Diego, California  –  With only 17 days left for the California Legislature to act before the session ends for the year, the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, Ralphs grocery stores, and a coalition of environmental advocates announced their support for a bill to ban plastic bags statewide by 2015.  If passed, California would become the first state in the nation to pass a statewide plastic bag ban, and the law would mark a significant step in the effort to keep harmful plastics out of oceans and waterways.
 
The state legislature is considering Assembly Bill 298, which would ban plastic checkout bags at supermarkets, retail pharmacies and convenience stores statewide beginning between 2014 and 2015.  The measure, authored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, would require retailers to provide reusable bags for sale and charge a fee for recycled paper bags as an incentive for customers to use reusable bags.
 
Over 50 California cities, making up nearly 30 percent of the state’s population, have banned or are in the process of banning plastic grocery store bags.  In San Diego County a ban on plastic bags is already on the books in Solana Beach, and a ban on plastic bags is expected soon in Encinitas.  Passage of AB 298 would create one statewide law and streamline regulations, making it easier for the grocery stores, and consumers, to come into compliance.
 
“California has long been a leader in protecting our oceans and ensuring clean water.  Once again we need to lead.  We must waste no time beginning to reverse the dramatic impact of plastic in our oceans.  This measure will protect our marine ecosystem and will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in environmental clean-up costs,” said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.  “With this bill, California will become a national model for greener, cleaner environmental stewardship.”
 
The convenience of plastic bags come with long-term economic and environmental costs.  California spends $25 million every year to landfill plastic bag waste, which is money Surfrider believes could be better spent on vital public services.  Due to their lightweight nature, single-use plastic bags also often end up as litter.  Local governments spend millions to clean up this litter, which ends up in neighborhoods, along streets and roads, and on the beach.
 
“Plastic bags and other plastic litter take so long to break down and biodegrade our seas are literally becoming filled with this waste, and it continues to exact an unsustainable toll on marine life, which mistake single-use bags and smaller pieces of plastic waste for food,” said Marisa Espinoza, San Diego Rise Above Plastics chair.  “If we truly love the ocean, love the beach, and want to protect our environment, we need to work with businesses and elected officials to halt the tide of plastic bags into the ocean.  As a coastal state with over 800 miles of shoreline, California has a responsibility to take a lead on this issue.”
 
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was joined at today’s press event by:
  • Surfrider Foundation Legal Director Angela Howe
  • Surfrider Foundation CEO Jim Moriarty
  • Environment California Legislative Director Dan Jacobson
  • Group Vice President, Marketing at Ralphs Grocery Stores Kendra Doyel
  • Solana Beach City Council member Lesa Heebner
  • Encinitas City Council member Teresa Barth
  • Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts
  • Imperial Beach Mayor Jim Janney
  • Eleven-year old activist Evan Lewis, the author of a petition to ban plastic bags in the city of San Diego
  • Representatives from the League of Conservation Voters San Diego, Green Vets, San Diego Coastkeeper, the Sierra Club, and others.

For more on plastic bag recycling, go to the Californians Against Waste website.  For more on AB 298, go to the California Legislative Information page on the legislation.

Additional information can be found at Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign page, or by contacting Chapter Coordinator Haley Jain Haggerstone at (619) 929-5350 or Marisa Espinoza at (619) 370-9953 with the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Check out this UT article by Christopher Cadelago titled Fletcher, environmentalists push plastic bag ban.