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San Diego County Chapter

RAP Resources

Rise Above Plastics Activist Resources

On this page, we’ve assembled several Surfrider plastic policy toolkits. You can find out more about each of them by scrolling through this page. Or, use our Quick Guide below to view or download any of them.

Plastic Facts

  • If plastic production is’t curbed plastic pollution with outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.
  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2], [3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources. [4], [5][6]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[7]
  • In 2010 about 690,000 tons of waste HDPE plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 4.3% of this total was recycled.[8]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[9]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup. [10][11]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[12]

See even more RAP Facts at Beachapedia.

Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit (2012)

Help reduce plastic waste in your community with the Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit!  This is a step by step guide to creating positive change in your community through reducing single-use plastics.  The RAP Toolkit is focused on establishing a plastic bag ban or similar ordinance and it also offers insight on increasing awareness of plastic pollution issues through education and outreach.

RAP Activist Toolkit E-mag version to View or RAP Activist Toolkit PDF version to Print

Plastic Straws Activist Toolkit (2018)

This toolkit was created to provide resources, strategies, and examples for Surfrider chapters and clubs to start or move forward with a straw program in their community. In this guide, you will find a process to achieve straw reduction goals that is based on the work that many chapters have started to carry out across the country. Check it out. 

Plastic Bag Law Activist Toolkit (2019)

Surfrider Foundation has helped pass an astounding 107 single-use plastic bag laws to date, but – with billions of single-use plastic bags still entering the waste and litter stream every year – there is more to be done.  As part of Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program, Surfrider recently partnered with Jennie Romer, Esq. from PlasticBagLaws.org to create our new U.S. Plastic Bag Law Activist Toolkit. Over the past decade, plastic bag laws in the U.S. have developed nuances in response to effectiveness concerns, state constitutional issues, and lawsuits. In the toolkit, we summarize the collective wisdom gained from drafting and implementing plastic bag laws.

This toolkit is a supplement to Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit, which gives an overview of the problems of single-use plastics and outlines plastics reduction laws. Our new toolkit delves exclusively into the details of best practices for drafting plastic bag laws, including the ten important clauses to consider. It provides a comprehensive look at the harms of plastic carryout bags, recommended ordinance structures, important clauses to include, effectiveness data, how to spearhead a community movement, and the threat of preemption.

Addendum to Plastic Bag Law Activist Toolkit (2020)

Our Addendum expands upon the “How Should ‘Reusable Bag’ be Defined?” section of the Plastic Bag Law Activist Toolkit. This definition is especially important if there is no fee mandated for reusable bags because it sets a minimum standard for bags that can be given away for free at checkout. 

Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit (2020)

The Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative is excited to announce our newest policy toolkit, the Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit. After over a decade of successfully advocating for and passing plastic policies such as bag, straw, and styrofoam bans, this toolkit focuses on the next generation of foodware bills that address plastic pollution in a more holistic and innovative manner. Foodware makes up a large proportion of solid waste and litter, and we see comprehensive foodware laws as the next step in making a larger impact.  

Bioplastics Toolkit ( 2021)

Have you ever purchased products marketed as compostable or biodegradable because they seemed like better alternatives to traditional plastic, even if you were not quite sure it was true? You are not alone! Whether intentionally or unintentionally, these claims can sometimes be a source of greenwashing — that’s when a product or action/service is falsely marketed as good for the environment. Greenwashing has become prevalent over the years, due in part to consumers demanding a more sustainable alternative to single-use plastic products. There are increasing claims about the benign nature of products as companies attempt to persuade consumers to purchase them. However, not all of these claims are meaningful or authentic. There are also legal complexities with some of these terms. The Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative is excited to release the Bioplastic Toolkit to address the complexities and confusion surrounding this topic. 

Plastic Pollution Laws Data Set - U.S. Dataset & Map

This is the Surfrider Foundation’s beta version of our U.S. Plastic Pollution Laws dataset and map, which is part of a global dataset project in partnership with Plastic Pollution Coalition. The current version of Surfrider’s dataset and map only shows bag, polystyrene, and straw legislation and is meant to show an initial summary and visualization of data, and includes minimal sorting and categorization. The next version will include more detail. 

Users can select and deselect different layers to show state and/or local laws for each product type and click on an icon for specifics about that law. The main limitation of the mymaps visualization is that if an original and amendment have been adopted for the same jurisdiction and product type, only one law will be visible. We are working to correct that issue. 

Please note that this is a work in progress and if we are missing any laws please let us know by filling out this corrections form. We also encourage you to use the corrections form to provide missing or incorrect details on laws currently in the dataset. We are specifically working on updating: 

  • fixing broken hyperlinks to laws, and replacing ecode links with bill links when possible
  • capturing the year adopted and year implemented for all laws

Statewide Preemption of Plastic Pollution Reduction Laws

Our map shows all bag, polystyrene, and straw legislation laws that have been adopted, but some may have been preempted or repealed.  Preemption is when a state government takes the power to regulate a certain area away from the local governments.  Nineteen states have preempted local regulation of bags and/or containers. Surfrider has partnered with Preemption Watch to track preemption laws related to plastic pollution reduction laws, more information can be found here.

Using This Map:

  • For the below map – click on the open icon with the arrow to the top left to show all the layers. Select and deselect layers of the map to show state and/or local laws for each product type: bags, polystyrene, and straws. 
  • Click on an icon for specifics about that law.