I am writing to you, as a member/supporter of Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter (“Surfrider”) to urge passage of The Single-Use Bag Reduction Act (AB 1998). For the last several years, Surfrider has been engaged in a highly-active campaign entitled “Rise Above Plastics,” (RAP) with the mission to reduce the impacts of plastic in the marine environment by raising awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the increase of recycling of all plastics.
AB 1998, as amended, would ban plastic single-use carryout bags and regulate paper carryout bags at supermarkets, retail pharmacies, and convenience stores throughout the state. Already, San Francisco, Malibu, Fairfax, and Palo Alto have banned plastic bags and at least 20 more cities in California are considering this approach. Rather than taking a piecemeal city-by-city approach, AB 1998 will create one uniform policy for addressing all types of single-use bags (including paper bags which contribute to deforestation ads waste intensive processes) to encourage consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative. I am requesting that you individually support and send a letter of support to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Julia Brownley.
As a governmental leader whose decisions directly affect the health of our ocean and waterways, you should be aware of the environmental AND economic impact of plastic bag pollution in inland, coastal communities and in our statewide oceans. Californians use an estimated 19 billion single-use plastic bags every year. The state spends $25 million annually to clean up and landfill these littered bags and this figure does not even include the over $300 million that local governments continually to spend to clean littered streets and waterways.
With a staggering less than 5% of single-use plastic bags are currently being recycled, most of these bags end up in our landfills or as litter, clog storm drain systems, and make their way to our waterways and ocean. An estimated 60–80% of all marine debris is plastic. Plastic lasts for hundreds of years and may never biodegrade in the ocean. As a result, it poses a persistent threat to wildlife, and is making it’s way up the food chain – to us. AB 1998 is a first step in addressing this problem.
The State of California has a critical role to play in becoming a leader in eliminating waste from single-use bags and preventing the proliferation of marine debris. The passage of AB 1998 is a first step in achieving these sound environmental policy goals and showing leadership in statewide environmental protection. I again strongly urge that you support this vital piece of legislation.