Trash is killing ocean wildlife

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 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 to their chicks — often causing them to starve to death after their stomachs become filled with plastic.
  • Toxic pollutants leach from the plastic 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.

What’s really scary is that scientists tell us this plastic may never biodegrade. And every day we go without tackling this problem, it becomes a little bit worse.

We can stop the waste

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans for hundreds of years. Californians know this, and are taking action to protect the Pacific.

We’ve made great progress winning local bans and educating the public on the harmful effects of plastic. Today, bags are banned (or soon will be) in more than 100 California communities — and now 1 in 3 Californians are living bag-free. It's a great start, but we’re not stopping until we rid the whole state of plastic bag pollution.

Let's ban the bags statewide!

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.

Member support makes it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, and help government officials make the right choices for our ocean. Join our campaign by urging Gov. Jerry Brown to ban plastic bags statewide.

Oceans updates

News Release | Environment California

Plastic bag manufacturer rallies against plastic bag ban

Sacramento — Joined by their lobbyists and allies, a score of representatives from a California plastic bag manufacturer rallied on the Capitol steps to oppose a statewide plastic bag ban. Despite this industry opposition, the bill, SB 270 (Padilla, de León, and Lara), has won the support of numerous environmental organizations, the California Grocers Association, the California Retailers Association, labor, reusable bag manufacturers, the City of Los Angeles, and communities around California. Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California issued a response to the plastics industry event.

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News Release | Environment California

San Rafael Passes California’s 100th Plastic Bag Ban

San Rafael—The City Council voted unanimously tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags citywide. San Rafael is the 100th California community to ban plastic bags. Nearly 1 in 3 Californians, 12.3 million in all, now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.

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News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Statement on Joint Plastic Bag Ban Bill

Sacramento— Senator Alex Padilla,Senator Kevin de León, and Senator Ricardo Lara have announced a new, joint bill to phase out single-use plastic bags in California. Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California, issued the following statement:

“Plastic bags are an environmental blight and a threat to wildlife. The success of 90 local plastic bag bans from Arcata to Solana Beach proves that this policy works to protect the environment. I applaud efforts by Senator Padilla, Senator de León, Senator Lara and other leaders to do the right thing for our environment by phasing out single-use plastic bags. I look forward to working with the Senators to ensure the success of this policy."

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News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Court of Appeal grants Environment California’s motion, upholds plastic bag ban

San Francisco – The California Court of Appeal has definitely affirmed California’s cities’ right to protect the environment by banning single-use plastic bags. The Court today agreed to publish its unanimously decision to uphold San Francisco’s plastic bag ban in a December 10 decision, creating a legal precedent on which other cities may rely. Today’s ruling sets the stage for more cities to adopt local laws phasing out plastic bags, and to strengthen their existing laws by expanding them to include restaurants.

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News Release | Environment California

Ventura plastic bag ban moves ahead

Ventura—The Ventura City Council voted tonight to draft a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags. City staff will develop an ordinance, based on a region-wide model, and return for a final vote as early as this fall. To date, 90 California local governments have already banned plastic bags, only 10 away from 100.

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