Amidst growing awareness of worldwide environmental devastation and health problems wrought by plastic and non-recycled trash, local students and environmental groups met at Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz to urge city and state officials to take action on plastic pollution and keep it out of the oceans.
“The news seems to be saturated with story after story of how bad plastic pollution is, with plastic waste being found everywhere from the deepest parts of the ocean, to the bellies of turtles and whales to our very own drinking water,” said Benjamin Porter, intern with Environment California. “The general public is probably sick and tired of hearing about this crisis, and many people would probably rather just avoid the bad news altogether. AB 1080 and SB 54 are California’s chance to finally change things, helping Californians to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we are throwing away and creating a model for other states to follow. If we don’t act now, the situation will only become more difficult to solve.”
“Nothing we use for five minutes should end up polluting our environment for thousands of years,” said Dan Jacobson, Director for Environment California. “We need to move away from single-use plastics.”
The ocean is where the vast majority of our single-use plastic ends up. The Pacific Ocean is now home to ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, which is growing every minute. This plastic never biodegrades, it just breaks down over the years into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. According to National Geographic, 94% of the 1.8 trillion (with a T) pieces of plastic in the garbage patch are microplastics. These microplastics are too small to be retrieved.
At the state level, dozens of environmental groups and others are campaigning to pass SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez). These two bills attack the trash crisis at both ends — before a product is ever created or purchased, and after a single-use item is ready for disposal.
The measure helps businesses transition from single-use plastic containers to reusable or compostable packaging with reasonable timelines to make changes in order to achieve an overall reduction of 75 percent by the year 2030. The measure also calls for incentives for in state manufacturing using recycled materials. Together, these requirements will cut back on the amount and type of trash going into landfills and litter in neighborhoods, waterways, and the ocean, which will reduce costs to taxpayers for disposal and cleanup.
What others are saying
“For all of us who treasure California’s creeks, bays and shorelines, and the fish and wildlife who live in them, SB 54 and AB 1080 represent crucial opportunities to prevent billions of pieces of plastic from becoming toxic, deadly litter throughout the state – by stopping this litter at the source. California is leading the nation in reducing plastic waste in the most effective, and least expensive way, protecting human health and wildlife, and helping clean up our shorelines at the same time.”
— Cheryl Brown, Political Director, Save the Bay
“Scientists estimate that more than 500 pounds of plastic waste enters the ocean every second. We need to tackle this issue from two angles: by making and using less single-use plastic, and by increasing what’s actually recycled. The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act puts our state on this path, and is a visionary approach that matches the scale of this problem. We are confident California can get out in front of this challenge and serve as a model for the rest of the country.”
— Aimee David, Director of Ocean Conservation Policy Strategies at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Save Our Shores believes ocean plastic pollution is a crisis second only to our climate emergency, to which plastics also contribute. While communities throughout Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as well as the state of California have passed multiple measures over the last decade to help reduce plastic pollution, it is time for a comprehensive approach to plastics management that starts with source reduction but includes reuse, repurposing, and effective recycling, says Katherine O’Dea, Executive Director of Save Our Shores. That’s exactly what SB 54 and AB 1080 will achieve and that’s why we are in strong support of these measures and are working locally and regionally to urge our legislature in Sacramento to pass these two important bills.”
— Katherine O’Dea, Save Our Shores
For more info, go to: www.environmentcalifornia.org