Plastic pollution is killing ocean wildlife. Thin, single-use plastic carrier bags are a significant source of plastic pollution.
Californians throw away 123,000 tons of plastic bags each year, and too many of them end up as litter in our ocean. Today, there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre; in some parts of the Pacific, plastic pollution outweighs plankton 6 to 1.
All of this trash in the Pacific is creating an ecological disaster:
• Turtles and seabirds frequently ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and often drown or die of suffocation.
• Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small bits of plastic pollution to their chicks, often causing them to starve to death after their stomachs become filled with plastic.
• Toxic pollutants leach from plastic pollution into the water. Scientists are now studying whether fish and other marine animals absorb these toxic pollutants. If so, there is a good chance that we also absorb them when we eat fish.
Scientists tell us this plastic may take hundreds of years to degrade, if it ever will. Every day we go without tackling this problem, it becomes a little bit worse.
We can’t 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 rest of these bags end up in our landfills or as litter, clogging storm drain systems, and making their way to our waterways and ocean. It is estimated that 60–80% of all marine debris, and 90% of floating debris, is plastic pollution.
We’ve made great progress passing local bans and educating the public on the harmful effects of disposable plastic. Today, bags are banned (or soon will be) in more than 50 California communities—when the Los Angeles bag ban goes into effect, 25% of Californians will be living bag-free. It's a great start, but we’re not stopping until we rid the whole state of plastic bag pollution.
With more cities banning bags each month, we have the momentum. With your help, we can win an historic victory for our ocean: a statewide ban on plastic bags. That is why we are supporting AB 298 (Brownley) a bill to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores, require paper bags to be made of recycled paper, and charge a small fee for the paper bag.
AB 298 will create a uniform policy, resulting in regulatory certainty for businesses and consumers. AB 298 will comprehensively address single-use bags and encourage consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative.
Please help us take a stand against pollution by voting YES for AB 298 (Brownley). Thank you for your consideration.