June 1 – Coastkeeper Encourages State Assembly to Pass Plastic Bag Ban

San Diego beach cleanup data supports need for state bill AB 1998

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San Diego—Tuesday, June 1, 2010—San Diego Coastkeeper joins Environment California in encouraging the State Assembly to pass AB 1998 (Brownley), a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags in California.  The Assembly is expected to vote on the bill by June 4 – if passed, it would make California the first state in the country to prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies from giving away free, single-use plastic bags. According to inland and beach cleanup data collected by San Diego Coastkeeper and its environmental partners, plastic bags remain of the top ten items polluting San Diego County.

“Beach cleanups are helpful in keeping trash away from the sea and showing the public how much trash is spread along our waterways, but cleanups are a reactive solution to this ocean pollution challenge,” said Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper Marine Debris Coordinator. “We need to address single-use plastic waste at the sources, and AB 1998 will bring California to the forefront of marine debris prevention.”

Bill AB 1998 would ban the free giveaway of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. It would allow the use of paper bags made of at least 40 percent post consumer paper, and the cost of the bag would be charged to the customer.  Bill supporters expect this move to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bag.

A recent report by the Ocean Conservancy, which analyzed the amount and types of trash picked up on beaches worldwide during the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, found that plastic bags and food packaging remained in the top four most found items. On a single day, 143,556 food containers and 71,336 plastic bags were picked up along the California coastline.

Locally, through twice-monthly beach cleanups hosted by Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation, plastic bags dominate the top ten most common items removed from San Diego beaches.

San Diego Coastkeeper wants citizens to take a stand against litter, especially single-use plastics that get loose from trash streams and don’t readily break down in the marine environment.

“Residents should call their assembly member and senator and ask them to support this bill,” said Glassco. “What starts by volunteering at a cleanup and ends with a call to your elected official may make a radical difference in reducing the amount of plastic in our ocean.”

Visit San Diego Coastkeeper online for a full schedule of beach cleanups, and click here to download Ocean Conservancy’s entire report.


San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them.  We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem.