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San Diego to Move Forward with Plastic Bag Ban in Wake of State Referendum

DATE 2/26/15

Contact: Roger Kube, Advisory Committee
Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter
Phone: (619) 701-4027

Contact: Michael Torti, Rise Above Plastics Policy Manager
Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter
Phone: 619-843-0123

San Diego to Move Forward with Plastic Bag Ban in Wake of State Referendum

San Diego, CA - In wake of the announcement that will force a referendum to repeal California's plastic bag ban, the City of San Diego has confirmed it will consider it's own. San Diego is poised to join 138 communities in California, including Solana Beach and Encinitas, that have already enacted a plastic bag ban to address the plastic pollution that is plaguing our oceans and beaches. Several other cities in San Diego County are considering the same.

On Tuesday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certified signatures gathered by the plastic bag industry to put a referendum on the November 2016 ballot to repeal the state’s plastic bag ban that was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown (SB 270). Plastic bag manufacturers spent 3.2 million, 98 percent of which came from out of state, to buy its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits. Nearly all of the plastic bags sold in California are produced by just three out-of-state corporations.

On Wednesday, Surfrider Foundation representatives met with Mayor Faulconer's office to request that San Diego's plastic bag ordinance be put back on track. We were encouraged to learn that our mayor has instructed city staff to restart the environmental review process, a necessary step to bring the ordinance to the City Council for a vote. In October 2013, Mayor Faulconer, then District 2 Councilmember, voted in support of moving forward with the environmental process for a plastic bag ban. While he hasn't formulated a position on the ordinance, Surfrider and ocean lovers alike are hopeful that he will support this responsible legislation.

City of San Diego Council President Sherri Lightner, who has led the Council on the plastic bag ban, reiterated her support. “The citizens of San Diego treasure our vibrant communities and beautiful coastline, as well as a healthy ocean, and that’s why the pollution caused by billions of these single-use plastic bags simply can’t continue,” says Council President Lightner. Referring to the 13 billion non-biodegradable plastic bags used in the state of California each year, 500 million are used in the City of San Diego. Less than 5 percent of these plastic bags are recycled.

Surfrider activist Roger Kube, says,"We appreciate the leadership of Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Council President Sherri Lightner. San Diego is the largest city in California without a plastic checkout bag ban. The evidence is clear, plastic pollution wreaks havoc on land, in our waterways, and in our marine environment. It kills wildlife, degrades our environment, poses a potential human health risk and comes with substantial economic costs. With SB270 on hold for 16 months, the time for San Diego to act is now."

Surfrider has learned that several other cities, including Oceanside, Chula Vista and Del Mar, are all are considering a plastic bag ban. Mike Torti, Surfrider's Rise Above Plastics Policy Coordinator states, "We are currently engaged with several cities to help pass local bag ban ordinances. We have received a tremendous amount of support with city leaders spanning San Diego County. Our local communities recognize the positive environmental impact of a bag ban."

To learn more about the Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter, visit