In a landmark decision, the California State Legislature passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, making California the first state to outlaw single-use plastic bags. The bill will now go to Governor Jerry Brown for a final sign-off. The Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches, applauds the decision.
“This is a great day for California and our oceans,” says Angela Howe, the Surfrider Foundation’s Legal Director. “Surfrider activists have been working tirelessly toward a statewide bag ban in California for the last six years, and our efforts have finally paid off with this action by the state legislature.”
The bill, SB 270, authored by California State Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), bans grocery stores and pharmacies from offering customers single-use plastic bags beginning July 1, 2015. And, by the following July, the law will apply to convenience stores and liquor stores. It will impose a minimum 10-cent fee on any paper or reusable plastic bags sold to customers who forgot to bring their own bags when they shop, and it will set strict standards for what types of bags count as reusable.
“This is a huge win, as plastic bags not only pollute our beaches and oceans, they kill marine life and, according to economists, cost Californians $25 million a year to collect and bury,” says Jim Moriarty, the Surfrider Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.
More than a 100 local governments around California, especially along the coast, already adopted plastic bag bans. They include Los Angeles, city and county; San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Santa Barbara. While single-use plastic bags were banned throughout Hawaii as of January 2014 (a victory that Surfrider applauds tremendously), the “de facto” statewide ban isn’t a state law. It was a result of county-by-county decisions. California is the first state legislature in the U.S. that passed a ban.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 380 billion plastic bags were made in 2009 and 102 million of those were plastic shopping bags. Most ‘conventional’ plastic bags are manufactured from oil or natural gas and it is estimated that somewhere between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used yearly worldwide. Nearly 20 billion are used annually in California and most end up in landfills or as litter. In addition to harming the marine environment, producing these bags requires the equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil per year and an unknown amount of natural gas according to plastic industry statistics.
Simple local actions can help make an impact to solve this global issue. Join the Surfrider Foundation in protecting the coast and Rise Above Plastics. Check out the resources on the Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program pages, then get involved with your local Surfrider Foundation Chapter to help protect our oceans, waves and beaches so you can enjoy them today, tomorrow and for years to come.
About Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains more than 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, visit www.surfrider.org.