Californians use an estimated 12 billion plastic bags a year. Before the L.A. County bag ban took effect in 2011, residents consumed approximately 433 single-use plastic bags each per year. Unfortunately, the immediate convenience of plastic bags comes with long-term economic and environmental costs for all Californians.
California cities and counties have led the charge in banning plastic bags. Now the California legislature has the opportunity to eliminate plastic bag waste statewide by passing AB 298. AB 298 will create a uniform California policy—creating regulatory certainty for businesses and consumers—that phases out single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, retail pharmacies, and convenience stores statewide and encourages consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative. AB 298 will significantly reduce plastic bag litter in our communities and on our beaches, save taxpayers money, and promote green jobs.
AB 298 must be voted on and passed by the Senate by August 31, and your Senator needs to hear from YOU. Let your representative know that you’re fed up with plastic bags trashing our communities and beaches, and tired of wasting taxpayer dollars on plastic bag litter cleanup.
Don't forget to also sign Heal the Bay's Take L.A. By Storm petition
I am writing to urge you to support AB 298. AB 298 would ban plastic single-use carryout bags and require recycled paper carryout bags be sold at supermarkets, retail pharmacies, and convenience stores throughout the state.
I am very concerned about the economic and environmental costs associated with plastic bag pollution to inland and coastal communities throughout our State. Californians use an estimated 12 billion single-use plastic bags every year. In 2008-2009, L.A. County alone spent more than $24 million for overall litter prevention, cleanup and enforcement efforts. Single-use plastic carryout bags are disproportionately responsible for these costs as their lightweight nature makes them more likely to end up as litter on our beaches, parks and roads. For example, plastic carryout bags comprise 0.4 percent of the waste destined for California landfills, and one characterization study of urban litter in storm drains and the LA River estimated that plastic bag litter makes up as much as 25 percent of the litter stream. These cleanup costs do not reflect the energy costs associated with producing single-use bags, or the negative socio-economic, public health and environmental costs associated with single-use bag litter.
We can no longer recycle our way out of this problem. Despite efforts to expand recycling programs, the recycling rate of single-use plastic bags remains around 5%. The remaining 95% end up in our landfills or as litter, clogging stormdrain systems, and making their way to our waterways and ocean. Plastic lasts for hundreds of years in our environment and may never biodegrade in the ocean. As a result, it poses a persistent threat to wildlife. For example, volunteers participating in the 2009 International Coastal Cleanup found 49 marine mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates entangled or trapped by plastic bags.
Single-use paper bags also come with their own costs to the environment. Although paper bags are recycled approximately 50% of the time, paper bag production contributes to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and can pollute our water with chemicals used in the pulp and paper making process.
California is a national leader in green jobs. There are at least 15 reusable bag companies in California, and a statewide ban on plastic bags will only help build this market.
Finally, bans work. For example, L.A. County announced that its ordinance has so far resulted in a 95% reduction in overall single use bag usage (both plastic and paper), which includes eliminating all single use plastic bags and a significant reduction of over 30% in paper bag usage.
Over 100 jurisdictions, including the City and County of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pasadena, Long Beach, Fairfax, San Jose, Watsonville, Solana Beach, and Santa Monica have adopted or are considering a single-use bag ban. Rather than taking a piecemeal city-by-city approach, AB 298 will create a uniform policy—creating regulatory certainty for businesses and consumers—that comprehensively addresses single-use bags and encourages consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative.
California has the opportunity to take a national leadership role in eliminating plastic bag waste. AB 298 will significantly reduce plastic bag litter in our communities and on our beaches, save taxpayers money, and promote green jobs. Please vote “YES” on AB 298.