Sacramento, CA – The California Senate narrowly rejected a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags by a vote of 18-17. The vote came despite a marathon legislative push in which environmental advocates, business leaders, cities, veterans organizations, and community activists banded together to move the statewide bag ban forward. The bill, SB 405 (Padilla), would have been a major step forward in protecting the Pacific Ocean from plastic pollution.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “Banning plastic bags is one of the easiest steps California could take to protect our beaches, rivers, parks, and the Pacific Ocean. The Senate’s failure is a disappointment for all Californians.”
Plastic bags are a significant environmental pollutant and a direct threat to wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for food. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, according to a review of over 370 autopsy reports. The Los Angeles Times has reported that plastic bags are one of the four most common garbage items on California’s beaches. Fifteen percent of all animals Ocean Conservancy found tangled in garbage during a worldwide beach cleanup were caught in plastic bags. Plastic shopping bags make up 19 percent of the garbage volume flowing out to sea on the Los Angeles River, according to Los Angeles County.
More than 70 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags. Over seven million Californians, nearly one out of every five people in the state, now live in a community that has approved a plastic bag ban. Other cities, including Chico, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Culver City are all in the process of adopting plastic bag ban ordinances.
“Switching to reusable bags is not a revolutionary concept,” commented Weaver. “More cities are banning plastic bags each month, but unfortunately our state legislators are getting left behind on this issue.”
Environment California is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.