Paid Signature Gatherers Seek Repeal of Bag Ban

It’s official. Out-of-state plastic makers are officially bankrolling a referendum to overturn CA’s hard fought plastic bag ban that Governor Brown just signed. They already have Paid Signature Gatherers in the street.

So we started our own campaign to push back against the misleading statements and falsehoods the industry is already spreading. Click here to contribute to the campaign right now.

“…the Industry will spend many millions of dollars to try to trick Californians into thinking that it’s a good thing that billions of single-use plastic bags are clogging up our storm drains and rivers, tangling up in our native flora, filling up the oceans and doing god knows whatever environmental mischief”.

Sacramento Bee Editorial

Their pockets are deep from decades of profits made from selling plastic bags in California without having to bear the public costs that come from their polluting products. And that’s what this referendum is really about. As the Bee writes:

"One of the most active opponents of the bag ban, and the force behind the Bag the Ban campaign, is South Carolina-based Hilex Poly. This company would like to continue to reap the riches made by polluting our beautiful state and then leaving the cost of cleanup to us.”

So it’s up to you and me to tell the truth. We know the Plastic Bag Ban works to reduce pollution and protect wildlife. But the plastic industry’s paid signature gatherers will be in front of stores and they will do and say anything to try to get 505,000 signatures in the next 75 days.

We have an experienced campaign team in place and proven campaign plan to spread our message and volunteers across the state to challenge their misinformation at every turn. But we need to expand our base of support and raise an additional $45,000 in the next 75 days to fund our share of this effort. If we can get 1000 supporters to pitch in $45 each, we can counter their effort. If you’re already contributed to this campaign—thank you! Please forward this message to your friends and family with your own personal appeal.

Mark Murray 
Executive Director

Click here to sign up to volunteer and support the campaign!

Republican Strategist Proposes Referendum on Bag Ban

Having been defeated at the local level, in the legislature, and facing an increasingly likely signature from Governor Brown, opponents of the plastic bag ban appear to be turning to a potential Voter Referendum in order to delay and block statewide implementation.

Republican Political Strategist Tony Quinn has written a piece for the conservative Fox & Hounds blogsite, suggesting that investing a couple million dollars in signature gathering for a Voter Referendum would have multiple benefits:

“Perhaps the plastic bag industry will step up: if they did refer the bill it would be suspended for two years until the voters could vote on it in November 2016.”
“…just when Hillary Clinton is on her way to her coronation. It could help the republican Candidate in 2016 if she were forced to explain why this new tax on middle class moms is such a good idea.”


Quinn’s thesis appears to be lifted in part from a leaked strategy memo. In August 2010, after former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger indicated that he was prepared to sign a plastic bag ban if the legislature got it to his desk, a political consulting firm prepared a 9 page ‘Strategy Memo’ for the plastic bag industry that outlined a plan and budget for overturning the policy through a voter referendum.

“…a loss in the California Legislature with no referendum challenge would encourage others at both the state and local levels to pursue banning plastic bags with impunity. Additionally, if the referendum is successful and the ban is defeated, the California Legislature would be legally precluded from enacting an identical ban and politically precluded from enacting similar bans for a significant period of time.”

As I reported to you this weekend, we are not out of the woods yet. The plastics industry—boosted by conservative bloggers and talk radio—is working overtime to turn public opinion against the plastic bag ban:

Plastics News Poll: “What’s the Best Argument Against Bag Bans and Taxes?

The plastics industry has demonstrated over the years that they will stop at nothing to prevent bags from being eliminated, preserving $1.8 billion per year in plastic bag sales. They’ve spend millions on lobbying and campaign contributions. They’ve sued multiple local governments to block implementation of local ordinances. And they’ve even paid PR consultants and lobbyists in a thwarted attempt to have false and misleading ‘benefits of plastic bags’ added to California’s education curriculum.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they are prepared to spend $2-$3 million to pay signature gathers to place a voter referendum on the state ballot.
We’ve worked too hard, and for too long to let this huge environmental opportunity slip through our fingers.

  • ACTION #1: Click here and submit this letter to Governor Brown urging him to sign Senate Bill 270. We will print and deliver your letter in person when we next meet with the Governor.
  • ACTION #2: Voice your support for the bag ban via social media, a letter to the editor or simply post comments when there are online articles in local and national media. You can find links to the latest articles on our website at: www.cawrecycles.org
  • ACTION #3: Finally, I hope we can count on you to send a special ‘Ban the Bag’ campaign contribution so we can expand our ‘earned’ and social media campaign, counter opposition claims and increase public support. Click here to make your online contribution now.

You know the environmental arguments in support of this legislation:

  • Elimination of 13 billion single-use plastic grocery bags annually;
  • Reduction of a major source of plastic litter and ocean pollution;
  • Conservation of natural resource use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Preventing harm to wildlife and a visual blight on our environment.

And our most recent analysis looking at the successful implementation of local bag bans demonstrates that the benefits go well beyond reducing plastic litter and waste:

  • Reducing Grocery Costs: last year plastic bags added $225 million to the price of groceries;
  • Growing Green Jobs: California’s growing reusable bag sector already employs hundreds.

But simply ‘being right’ isn’t enough. We’ve got to get our message to the broader public. The stakes are high. This is no longer a local/coastal environmental issue, but rather a statewide policy that has the potential to sweep across the country. The plastics industry knows that and they are airing ads in the Central Valley, Orange County, North Eastern California, and the Imperial Valley.

Your contribution to this campaign will provide us the resources needed to generate earned media and social media to build and demonstrate a groundswell of public support for the elimination of plastic shopping bags and a transition to reusable bags. You can make your campaign contribution right now at:www.cawrecycles.org

And your letter, combined with thousands of others, is the most tangible way that we can demonstrate public support for this policy.

Thank you for your faith and support over the course of this campaign. We are so close to victory. Please help us finish the job!

New Report: Local Plastic Bag Bans Deliver More Than Reduced Plastic Pollution and Waste

Sacramento, CA - A new analysis of the implementation of local Plastic Bag ordinances in California reveals that the benefits of the policies go well beyond reducing plastic  pollution and waste, and include reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), lower costs for consumers, and more in-state manufacturing jobs.  

While the California legislature this week continues to debate whether to extend a phase out of single-use plastic grocery bags statewide, local elected officials in California haven’t waited. As of August 18, 117 California jurisdictions have adopted policies eliminating single-use plastic carry out bags at most grocery and convenience stores.

“We no longer have to speculate on whether bag bans are good policy,” said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste. “For more than 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags has been a reality in their communities for a year or more, and the results are clear and consistent: reduced plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores, and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives.”

CAW has compiled results from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and Alameda County, to document the impact of local bag bans. Reductions in plastic bag litter, waste and clean-up costs were as expected. However, the better than expected transition by consumers to ‘reusable bags’ and in many cases ‘no bags’, has resulted in substantially lower bag costs at grocery stores, reduced green house gas emissions, and for at least one large California bag manufacturer, substantial job growth.

Among the key findings:

Reduced Plastic Pollution and Waste:

  • San Jose reports 89% fewer bags in its storm water systems; 60% fewer bags in creeks; and 59% fewer bags on streets.
  • San Francisco reported that 18% fewer bags in street litter in 2009 (after ban) compared to 2007. SF’s Bag Ban was extended to all grocery, convenience and liquor stores in 2012.
  • Los Angeles County reported a 95% reduction in all single-use bags generated by grocery stores. 
  • Santa Cruz/Monterey weekly beach clean-up reports show, prior to local bans, volunteers collected an average of 65 plastic bags per week. Today the average is down to 6 bags per week.
  • Statewide the volume of plastic bags generated decreased 25% from 226 million pounds in 2008, to under 170 million pounds in 2012. With nearly 80 bag bans already in place, CAW is projecting that the total number of plastic bags generated in the state will fall below 10 billion for the first time since 1980. 

Lower Bag Costs at Grocery Stores:

  • San Jose ‘before and after’ surveys of customer behavior show that better than 50% of bags utilized by consumers are now ‘reusable’ bags, compared to just 3% prior to the ban. Notably, the number of consumers eschewing any type of bag has increased more than three-fold from 13% prior to the ban to 44% after the ban. Paper bag use has declined marginally.
  • Los Angeles County retailer reports showed a 95% reduction in the distribution of single use shopping bags. Prior to the ban grocery stores were spending an average of $6300 per month to provide consumers with ‘free’ grocery bags. Today that cost is down to $965 per month.
  • Los Angeles City and County require retailers to charge ’10 cents’ to consumers who need a paper bag. Consumers receiving State Food Assistance are exempt from the charge. A county survey found that the mandatory charge is generating $740 per month per store, which is just under the $965 per month cost to stores of providing paper bags.
  • Statewide California retailers are spending in excess of $313 million annually to provide customers with ‘free’ shopping bags. Based on the LA County experience, statewide implementation of the Bag Ban—including the 10 cent charge—is projected to reduce retail costs in excess of $265 million annually.

Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Plastic bags are made primarily of polyethylene, which can be derived from either petroleum or natural gas. Plastic bag generation in California peaked in 2000, with an estimated 31 billion single-use plastic bags distributed by California retailers. The raw material and energy used to produce those bags is the equivalent of 129,000 gallons of oil. Over the last 7 years, a combination of local ordinances and consumer choice have cut plastic bag generation in half, and in the process, eliminated 250,000 tons of C02 equivalent. Eliminating another 7 billion plastic grocery bags will reduce GHG emissions by another 175,000 tons annually.

Phase Out of Single-Use Plastic Resulting in Increased California Manufacturing Jobs:
Earlier this month, the Paper Industry reported that Paper Bag Sales have grown 11.4% in the past year, and the Plant Manager at International Paper’s Buena Park, CA Bag Manufacturing Plant reports hiring 15-20 additional workers and increasing to shifts to 24/7 to keep up with demand. "Demand is growing, which is something I haven't said in many years," said KapStone Chairman and CEO Roger Stone. On the company's second quarter conference call on August 1st, Stone said that a main factor driving the growth is the growing number of local government bans on plastic bags.

The phase out of plastic bags will undoubtedly result in a loss of jobs at those companies that rely exclusively on the manufacture of single-use plastic grocery bags. But those companies, like South Carolina-based Hilex Poly, and Texas-based Superbag, are not in California. Vernon-based Command Packaging, and Oroville-based Roplasthave already transitioned from single-use retail bags to the manufacture of durableReusable Bags. And Huntington Park-based Crown Poly is projecting growth as it diversifies to make produce bags and trash can liners.

In addition to Command and Roplast, California has emerged as the home-base of the growing Reusable Bag sector, including Chico BagBurbank-based Earthwise, and San Francisco-based Green Bag.

Sources:
http://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/aboutthebag/
http://www.cawrecycles.org/files/CAWBagFactsOct2013.pdf
http://www.presstelegram.com/general-news/20131112/long-beachs-plastic-bag-ban-two-years-later
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_23474167/mixed-bag-are-californias-bans-plastic-bags-working
http://www.seattle.gov/util/groups/public/@spu/@conservation/documents/webcontent/01_025116.pdf

Desperate: Now Out-of-State Plastic Bag Makers are just LYING!

Out-of-state plastic bag producer Hilex Poly has launched another false and misleading attack against Senator Alex Padilla and SB 270—the bill to extend the phase out of plastic grocery bags statewide.

Lie #1: Hilex Poly has distributed hundreds of single-use plastic bags to members of the legislature claiming that these ‘thicker’ plastic bags would qualify as “Reusable Bags” under SB 270.

FALSE! The plastic bags distributed by Hilex Poly are single-use bags used for the take-out food sector. They would FAIL to qualify as “Reusable Bags” under SB 270 in 3 ways:

  • They are not sufficiently durable or certified to withstand 125 uses.
  • They don’t meet the minimum 2.25 mils thickness requirement (see photo: less than 1.5 mils).
  • They are not made with 20% recycled material.

 

Lie #2: Hilex Poly claims that SB 270 “represents a billion dollar transfer of wealth from families to Grocery stores”

FALSE! In every California community that has implemented a Bag Ban, including those that require consumers to pay the cost of bags, total consumer bag costs have been substantially reduced!

  • In Los Angeles County, reports show that the total consumer cost of single use bags has been cut by more than half, from $9.4 million annually to less than $3 million annually.
  • In LA, the generation of recycled paper bags—for which there is a 10 cent charge—has remained virtually unchanged. The average ‘large’ Grocery Store in the county reports collecting an average of just $742/month.
  • In San Jose, surveys of consumer transactions show that 58% of consumers are bringing their own reusable bags when shopping, and that 44% of shoppers did not request any bag.
  • Based on local experience, under SB 270, California consumers are projected to save more than $219 million in reduced single-use bag costs, or over $17 a year per household a year.

 

Lie #3 : Hilex Poly claims that bag bans have not reduced litter and waste.

FALSE! California cities and counties that have already banned plastic grocery bags are seeing a substantial reduction in plastic bag litter and waste, as well as reduced GHGs, and lower costs.

  • One year after its bag ban implementation, San Jose reported 89% fewer bags in its stormwater systems, and 59-60% fewer bags in its streets and creeks.
  • San Francisco reported 18% fewer plastic bags in street litter from 2007 to 2009.
  • Los Angeles County has documented a 95% reduction in all single use bags, and—despite the 10 cent charge—a savings of more than $8 million annually in single use bag costs.
  • San Jose reports 35-50% decrease in plastic bag related problems with their recycling system/machinery.

 

Lie #4: Hilex Poly claims that SB 270 is the product of “Special Interests”.

FALSE! SB 270 is the product of a six year grassroots campaign that began in San Francisco, and has grown to include more than 114 local governments with single-use plastic grocery bags bans.

  • Hilex Poly, the American Chemistry Council, and their phony front groups (e.g., American Progressive Bag Alliance; Save the Plastic Bag Coalition) are the “Special Interests”.
  • Hilex Poly alone has spent almost $300,000 in campaign contributions over the last five years.
  • Hilex Poly and other bag manufacturers have spent over $3 million in the last five years to lobby against state measures on plastic grocery bags.
    • SB 270 is supported by hundreds of statewide and local non-profit, environmental and consumer groups.

 

Don’t be duped by Hilex Poly – Get the Facts.
Today, 115 California cities and counties have adopted bans on plastic grocery bags. These local policies have been demonstrated to reduce plastic litter and waste, reduce GHGs associated with all single use bags, and save money.

SB 270 extends a uniform phase out of plastic bags statewide.

100 California Cities & Counties Have Voted to Ban Plastic Bags!

California has reached a new milestone for local bag bans.

Last Monday evening, the City of San Rafael adopted an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in grocery, convenience, and drug stores, making it the 100th city or county in the state to be covered by a plastic bag ban.

Way to go, San Rafael, and thanks to everyone for your hard work and support in getting us to this point! See the full list of local ordinances on our website.

Are you tired of plastic bag pollution? Support the proposed state bag bill, SB
270
:

CAW Letter to Governor on Bottle Bill Proposal

Dear Governor Brown,

While we appreciate the efforts of CalRecycle to define and attempt to address a ‘Structural Deficit’ in the Beverage Container Recycling Program, the proposals contained in your Governor’s 2014-15 Budget include several counterproductive and unnecessary cuts to the State’s recycling infrastructure, while mostly failing to address the root causes of the problem. We must oppose the proposal unless substantially amended. 

CalRecycle’s Budget Proposal will unnecessarily undermine some of the most critical and successful elements of California’s nation-leading recycling efforts including:

  • Eliminates $15 million for Curbside Recycling Programs. Curbside provides the backbone of our residential recycling system and is critical to meeting the State’s 75% Recycling Goal. Curbside handles more glass than any other recycler type, and glass is the most expensive to recycle container. Without this funding, curbside programs will be forced to either raise residential rates or stop collecting glass for recycling.
  • Eliminates $10.5 million for Local Government Recycling and Litter Clean Up.  Local Governments are facing increasing pressure and financial demands to both reduce storm drain litter and increase recycling to meet State Goals. These Recycling block grants represent the only annually available source of state funds to achieve these objectives.
  • Eliminates $15 million for local Conservation Corps with a promise to backfill funding from other Special Fund Sources. The State’s Local Conservation Corps annually train and employ 650 corpmembers, many of which are ‘at risk youth’. Consistent with the legal uses of ‘special funds’, for two decades, the vast majority of these corpmembers have been operating mature beverage container recycling programs. These programs will have to be drastically reduced, while Corps try to cobble together new programs for recycling motor oil, e-waste and used tires. We support increasing Conservation Corp access to new recycling funds, but this needed investment in recycling need not come at the expense of existing successful container recycling programs.
  • Cap Supermarket Recycler Payments at $1700 per month. There are currently 417 ‘unserved’ supermarket-based recycling sites in the State, and the artificial ‘cap’ proposed in the budget could increase that number to over 1000. There is no basis for a $1700/month cap. CalRecycle’s most recent (2012) ‘Newpoint’ survey of 94 recycling sites found that only one center had monthly costs below $1700/month, and that center’s ‘costs per container’ were more than twice as high as the statewide average. Of nearly 1000 handling fee eligible sites,  82% have costs—based on the Newpoint Survey—that exceed $1700/month, including 100% of the state’s most efficient sites whose costs per container are below the surveyed statewide average. Caps on payments to Handling fee sites were tried and failed 14 years ago. In 1990, AB 1490 (Sher), established a $1500/month cap. The result was high cost/low volume sites that failed to meet the law’s convenience mandate.  In 1992, the Legislature established the current ‘Handling Fee’ system (1.7 cents/container) and set the monthly cap at $2300. In 2006, AB 3056 (Hancock), shifted the handling fee to a ‘cost survey’ basis and eliminated the cap. Today, supermarket-based recycling centers are operating with the lowest average cost per container in the program’s 25 year history.
  • Eliminates $7.6 million in payments to Recyclers and $17.7 million in payments to Processors. When consumers redeem containers at a recycling center, they receive their CRV payment when they recycle. But the recycler who redeems those containers and the certified processor that submits the reimbursement claim to CalRecycle, may have to wait 30-50 days before they are reimbursed the CRV that they have already advanced to consumers. During any given 30 day period, California’s private and non-profit recycling sector may be advancing California consumers as much as $13 million. The administrative payments, which equal .75% of CRV for recyclers, and 1.75% for processors, is in most cases insufficient to cover the lost time value of money. Additionally, in order to help curb fraud and reduce CalRecycle administrative costs, the department has in the last year added new administrative requirements on certified recyclers which have added to their costs. It appears arbitrary and punitive to eliminate recycler and processor administrative payments, especially while maintaining beverage distributor administrative payments in excess of $16 million.

 

Last year (FY 2012-13), the reported structural deficit totaled about $100 million. That is about 8.5% of annual program income. The CalRecycle proposal would cut Core Program Recycling Expenditures by $73.8 million (out of the current $133.6 million total).  Current total Core Program Recycling Expenditures, when combined with current CalRecycle administrative expenditures ($45.8 million), equal less than 16% of annual program revenue ($1.15-$1.17 billion). In other words, these essential recycling expenditures do not—in and of themselves--contribute to the structural deficit, and would remain sustainable even if recycling rates equaled 84%. While Californians recycled a record level of containers last year, recycling rates have remained steady at 82% for 5 years in a row.

Provision we support/have no objection to:

Processing Fee Offsets. CalRecycle has also proposed phasing out the practice of using ‘unredeemed’ funds to offset up to 90% of beverage manufacturer’s container specific recycling costs (i.e. processing fees). This outdated system costs the Beverage Container Recycling Fund more than $66 million annually. This proposal would increase the cost of PET plastic containers by about one-tenth of a cent/container; the cost of glass containers by about 1.5 cents/container; and the cost of HDPE plastic containers by about eight-tenths of a cent per container. For the first decade of the program, beverage manufacturers were required to cover the full net cost of recycling their containers. We have no objection to CalRecycle’s proposal to return to this practice.

Local Enforcement Grants. The department has proposed establishing a $7 million annual grant program for local public agencies to take over responsibility for enforcing compliance at local certified recycling locations. This is an innovative proposal that is worthy of being tried on a pilot basis to determine if locally directed enforcement might be a more effective. However, we would caution that some local solid waste management agencies have a history of trying to block certified recycling centers from operating based on the perception that these private and non-profit operators compete with local government recycling programs. Of the 417 ‘unserved zones’ statewide, it appears that as many as 30% (125 sites), may be unserved due to the actions of a local agency. We would have no objection to a proposal establishing a ‘pilot’ enforcement program targeting those areas of the state where it has been logistically challenging and costly for CalRecycle to undertake regular site visits and enforcement.  We would establishing a local enforcement role and providing consumer recycling funds to those local agencies that have forced the closure and/or blocked the siting of certified recycling centers.

Diversified Funding for Local Conservation Corps. We are generally supportive of the department’s proposal to make non-beverage container recycling funds available to Local Conservation Corps that may be interested in establishing new programs for the collection of used tires, e-waste or motor oil. It will certainly take some time for Local Corps to evaluate need and opportunity in their communities, and then potentially gear up to establish these new programs. So while we support making these funds available to Local corps, it is premature to view these funds as a potential replacement for existing Beverage Container Recycling funding and programs.

Extend and Increase Recycling Grant Funding. The department is proposing to reinstate and actually increase funding for the defunct Recycling and Litter Reduction Grant program. The legislature suspended this largely ineffective and arbitrary expenditure in 2010. While grant funding may have played an important role in creating California’s recycling infrastructure in the 1990’s, today that infrastructure is largely mature, representing hundreds of enterprises, employing tens of thousands of Californians, and moving more than 10 million tons of recycled materials with a market value in excess of $10 billion.  While we have no objection to providing CalRecycle with modest annual grant making authority for the occasional special project ($500,000 annually), this specific grant program has proven to be an ineffective and at times a counterproductive means of supporting California’s recycling economy.

Payment Reforms offer a Better Path to Program Sustainability
While there is clearly a structural deficit, expenditures for recycling didn’t create it, and cutting those expenditures won’t fix it. The data demonstrates CRV ‘overpayments’ are the real problem, and that increased enforcement, closing loopholes, and CRV payment reforms are the only solution.

The department’s extensive program data, including the Quarterly Report on the Status of the Beverage Container Recycling Fund suggests that  a primary source of the deficit is excess CRV Payments being made for non-CRV materials (both in-state and out-of-state).  Some of this is caused by direct and purposeful fraud. But in some cases the problem is one of ‘CRV leakage’ due to inadequate poor record keeping and accounting by both operators and regulators. Even the most conservative estimate suggests that this overpayment problem approaches $100 million annually, and likely exceeds the amount of the current deficit.  To CalRecycle’s credit, in the last several months, the department has initiated several critical regulatory reforms that are already paying dividends and reducing the size of the deficit.

  • Suspending Commingled Rate Payments – Starting November 1, 2013, the department suspended the practice of allowing buyback recycling centers to make ‘commingled’ CRV payments to consumers for loads containing non-CRV material. While this system was resulting in high recycling, it was also resulting in CRV funds being paid out for non-CRV materials. Based on our informal surveys, we are projecting that this ‘fix’ will result in a 2% to 3% downward ‘correction’ in recycling rates and has the potential to save the fund as much as $25 million in 2014-15. 
  • Daily Consumer Load Limit – Effective January 1, CalRecycle lowered the amount of daily allowable consumer load limit to 50 pounds for aluminum and plastic, and 250 pounds for glass.  
  • Out of State Enforcement - To help combat out-of-state fraud, in September, 2012, the Governor signed an urgency measure--AB 1933 (Gordon)—providing CalRecycle and CDFA with added enforcement tools to stop entities from importing empty beverage containers from out of state for illegal redemption. On February 18, 2014 CalRecycle began requiring all importers of empty containers to go through Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) quarantine inspection station and obtain and carry proof of inspection. A form documenting the source and destination of the material must also be completed. The Department has projected that out-of-state fraud may be costing the fund as much as $40 million annually. 
  • Increasing certification requirements for recyclers to help maintain even playing field for legitimate operators.


Priority Legislative Steps to Support Recycling & Return Fund Balance:

In addition to the department’s recent regulatory and enforcement actions, we believe that there are several Program Reforms that the legislature can undertake this year in order to reduce CRV ‘over payments’ and bring program income and expenditures into balance without endangering thousands of recycling jobs and threaten consumers’ ability to conveniently recycle containers. 

  • Closing CRV Loopholes. Containers for more than 1.2 billion beverages sold in the state are currently exempt from paying CRV due to outdated and arbitrary container size and type distinctions (fruit juice in a 40 ounce glass bottle pays CRV, but the same juice in a 46 ounce glass container does not; Flavored sugar drinks in a 12 ounce aluminum or PET container pays CRV, while the same sugar drink in the same sized box or pouch does not). Closing this loophole will likely increase recycling by more than 500 million containers annually, while reducing the fund imbalance by $55 million or more.
  • Adjusting CRV on large Single Serve Containers. Containers under 24 ounces have a 5 cent CRV. Containers 24 ounces and larger have a 10 cent CRV. Last year the average ‘pay-in’ for the more than 9 billion PET Containers sold was 5.8 cents. But the average ‘pay-out’ was somehow 6.4 cents. This differential is costing the fund $40 million annually for PET alone.
  • Handling Fee Reform. Every two years, CalRecycle surveys the cost of recycling at supermarket-based recycling centers. Current law requires the department to establish a single statewide average ‘handling fee’ to cover costs. However, the last two surveys reveal that the ‘single average’ system results in a substantial overpayment for high volume recycling centers and a substantial underpayment for lower volume centers. In large part because of this underpayment, there are currently more than 400 ‘unserved’ supermarket sites. Based on the Department’s cost survey, a simple ‘tiered’ payment system would provide a more equitable distribution of existing handling fee payments for supermarket-based recycling centers, while at the same, saving the fund as much as $7 million annually.
  • Redirecting staff to Audit and Enforcement. In the most recent Quarterly Report on Fund Status, the department concludes: “CalRecycle must shift the balance of its efforts in primarily encouraging recycling to an increased emphasis on program fiscal integrity under an environment where Californians are enjoying record high recycling rates.” We agree. The Division of Recycling has more than 289 employees and an administrative budget of $45 million. The program has reached a level of maturity and recycling success whereby this staffing can and should be focused exclusively on the tasks of ‘money in and money out’.


The incentives and infrastructure provided by the Beverage Container Recycling Program represent California’s oldest and most consistent models of recycling success. The US EPA and other independent analyses have found this program to be the most cost effective container recycling system in the country.

As California looks to substantially expand recycling in order to meet the dual goals of 75% recycling by 2020, and reduced GHG emissions under AB 32, California will need to expand this model of recycling success, and not go backwards, eliminating core program recycling expenditures.

While we must oppose CalRecycle’s budget proposal unless substantially amended, we remain ready to work with the Administration, the Legislature and recycling stakeholders on a solution this budget cycle to bring program income and expenditures into balance.

Sincerely,


Mark Murray
Executive Director

 

No More Single Use Plastic Grocery Bags In California By 2016

No more single-use plastic grocery bags in California by 2016!

At one point, California stores were distributing more than 30 billion plastic shopping bags annually.
Over the last decade, we’ve cut that problem in half:

  • Many consumers are already voluntarily saying no to plastic and bringing their own reusable bags;
  • And to date, more than 90 cities and counties have an adopted local ordinance phasing out single-use plastic bags.

With today’s announcement of a new bill co-authored by Senator Alex Padilla and Senator Kevin de León, we begin the process of phasing out the 13 billion single-use plastic bags that continue to be generated annually.

The measure would ban single-use plastic grocery bags in grocery stores by July of 2015, and expand to cover other markets, convenience stores, and drug stores one year later. Similar to the local ordinances that have banned single-use plastic grocery bags, recycled paper and reusable bags would still be available for purchase (10 cents minimum).

With this proposal, we can now look ahead to a day when there will be no more plastic grocery bags in our neighborhoods, in our rivers, on our beaches, or stuck up in the trees and on fences.

It will also mean:

Less Litter and Waste—over 40,000 tons GONE!

(Less than 5% of single-use plastic grocery bags ever got recycled.)
Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions—300,000 tons of C02 Equivalent GONE! (And if you’re concerned about the footprint of your reusable bag or your recycled paper bag), know this:

  •  We have a Life Cycle Analysis that shows that after as few as 8 ‘reuses’ the reusable bags that will be made in this California factory, by these California workers, will have a smaller footprint than a single-use plastic bag.
  • And we also know, from the plastics industry’s own study, that the production of their single-use plastic bags generates more greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent volume of paper bag.

This will mean lower costs for consumers and taxpayers:

  • The so-called ‘free’ grocery bag has been costing stores more than $250 million a year—a cost that has been added to the price of our groceries—that cost will be GONE!
  • Our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council found that $11 per capita of our local taxes are paying for clean-up related to storm drain trash and marine debris. And the biggest culprit? Plastic bags make up as much as 25% of captured trash.

So this is a big deal.

But the details on this one are pretty important as well.

Senator Kevin de León has brought to the table a very innovative proposal that's aimed at transitioning existing California plastic bag manufacturers and jobs to making a California reusable bag that is made from recycled material and is fully recyclable--can't say that for a lot of the current generation of reusable bags made in China!

Thank you Senator de León for your challenge, for your leadership and for your outside-the-box creativity to make this deal a reality.

And of course, Senator Padilla, thank you again, and again, and again, for your hard work, faith and tenacity on this issue.

Now let’s get it done.

Big Surprise: Koch Brothers Funded Front Group Concludes It's A Bad Idea To Phase Out Plastic Grocery Bags

The latest industry ‘pseudo-study’ re-hashes fact errors, misstatements, and outdated speculation to conclude that the effort to phase-out single use plastic grocery bags won’t save money and will be bad for the environment.

The results of real-world implementation say otherwise.
“Do Bans on Plastic Grocery Bags Save Cities Money?” by H. Sterling Burnett, of the Koch Brothers funded National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), is the latest effort to undermine the growing and successful movement to ban single use plastic grocery bags.

However, we no longer have to speculate on the impacts of phasing out plastic grocery bags, because this policy is a reality in dozens of California cities and counties. The adoption of Bag ordinances have been the subject of vigorous environmental review (as required by California law), and their implementation has resulted in clear environmental and economic benefits.

The experience of California communities demonstrates that phasing out single-use plastic grocery bags reduces litter and waste and saves consumers and taxpayers money, with none of the “unintended consequences” suggested by the plastics industry and their minions at NCPA.

Los Angeles County’s ordinance has reduced single-use grocery bags by 90%, saving consumers more than $4.8 million this past year alone.

“This significant reduction in consumption of single use bags helps reduce bag litter and other environmental impacts at the source,“ says Coby Skye, LA County Senior Civil Engineer.

San Jose reported 59-60% less plastic bag litter in creeks and streams, one year after implementation.

San Francisco’s most recent street litter audit found an 18% reduction in plastic bags from 2007-2009.

“The growing number of cities in California and across the country approving bans on single use plastic bags to protect the environment, together with courts upholding these policies, have led the plastics industry to desperate new tactics of funding flawed and misleading reports.” said Jack Macy, San Francisco Department of Environment’s Senior Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator.

 

• Ninety cities and counties across California have adopted plastic bag bans, representing one-third of the state’s population. These policies have already ensured the elimination of more than 6 billion plastic grocery bags annually.

• Every environmental analysis to-date has concluded that the production of plastic grocery bags generates more pollution (including GHG emissions) than an equivalent capacity of paper bags. Even the plastic industry funded study (cited by NCPA) found that the production of plastic bags generates 20% more GHG than the production of paper bags.
• In 2000, California stores were generating in excess of 30 billion plastic bags annually. Today, local bans and consumer education have cut plastic bag distribution in half. In 2014, we are projecting that plastic bag generation will fall below 10 billion for the first time since the early 1980s.
• Based on the industry’s own environmental impact analysis, the elimination of 18 billion plastic bags in California since 2000 has saved the equivalent of 480,000 tons of CO2 from being released into our atmosphere and 84,000 tons of plastic from being littered or landfilled.

The effort to phase out single-use grocery bags has been the subject of similar attacks by the plastics industry in the past—attacks that rely on misinformation and faulty data designed to support their own conclusions.

The report’s author, H. Sterling Burnett, is a die-hard climate change denier. He has compared Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” to Joseph Goebell’s Nazi propaganda films and downplayed the serious nature of the Gulf Oil Spill, saying it was “hyped” by environmentalists in order to promote tax increases.

Mr. Burnett’s report is another in a series of misleading and fact bereft attacks on the successful efforts of local governments to reduce a significant and preventable source of marine pollution and waste. The public and policy makers aren’t going to be swayed by industry propaganda on this issue. They can see for themselves that the elimination of tens of billions of plastic bags in California is working to reduce litter and waste.

Thankful, yes. But Much to be Done.

As we prepare for a busy and challenging 2014, we’re looking back over 2013 with a sense of accomplishment. And we’d like to give you an update on what your support has helped us achieve:

Mattress recycling a reality:

There’s great news to report for consumers, local governments, and the environment. After two years of hard work, Governor Brown signed SB 254, the west coast’s first mattress recycling bill into law. It was coauthored by Senators Loni Hancock and Lou Correa and cosponsored by CAW.

You and your family now have a number of free recycling options when it comes time to replace your old mattresses. In addition, local governments will get some relief from the burden and cost of managing illegally dumped mattresses. Implementation of SB 254, which will be managed by a non-profit stewardship organization and overseen by a Recycling Advisory Committee, will begin in 2016.

More tire recycling:

The Governor also signed AB 513, another CAW-sponsored bill to increase tire recycling by expanding the market for Rubberized Asphalt Concrete projects. RAC is asphalt made with recycled tires, which makes it quieter and more durable than regular asphalt. More importantly, recycling tires helps reduce the number of tire fires that occur when waste tires are stockpiled. Instead of feeding fires that burn for weeks and create noxious smoke, more tires can be reused for projects in your community.

Single use plastic grocery bags:

This year we came so close to passing SB 405, a statewide bill to phase out plastic grocery bags, and we are even more determined than ever after this near win. We will keep fighting to get the last three votes we need. And we’re optimistic because the momentum keeps building as local governments keep taking action.

In 2013 alone, at least 31 communities adopted single-use plastic bag ordinances, bringing the current total to87 statewide. Now that LA City, the second largest city in the country, has adopted a bag ordinance, one-third of Californians will soon live in a community with an adopted bag ban. This is good news for our economy, our ocean and the marine life that call it home.

Senator Alex Padilla, who authored SB 405, has pledged to bring it back for reconsideration in 2014, and we’ll be working to support him throughout the process.

Recycling economy:

We sponsored AB 341 last year because we knew it would help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and create good green jobs. Recycling will be sustainable only if it continues to build a robust economy. This year, we’ve shared multiple reports with you that show even in tough times recycling continues to create jobs. And CalRecycle has projected up to 100,000 new jobs could be created as California keeps working to meet the 75% recycling goal set in AB 341.

Looking ahead:

While we really want to share and celebrate these accomplishments with you, we’re looking forward to doing even more in 2014.

We’ll continue working to implement our plan, Waste Not California. Just like you, we’re concerned about the extraction and processing of the planet’s virgin material resources to make more and more single use, litter-prone and disposable products and packaging. This practice results in the generation of massive pollution and waste long before these items reach the landfill or even the recycling bin.

When we reduce packaging and waste and make products from recycled materials, we substantially reduce the pollution, energy and waste associated with manufacturing.

Our goals:

  • Reduce human & environmental exposure to toxics by reducing and recycling hazardous products & material;
  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions through source reduction and recycling;
  • Reduce water pollution and marine debris by reducing and recycling plastic litter and waste;
  • Continue to promote a robust recycling economy through the development of policies and incentives that create jobs.

How do you feel about our progress? Feel free to call or drop us a note anytime to share your ideas, questions or concerns.

Thanks for your continued support!

Statement on Plastic Bag Bill

The California State Senate has once again failed to muster the 21 votes necessary to implement a statewide phase-out of single use plastic bags.

On a vote of 18-17, Senate Bill 405, by State Senator Alex Padilla, failed passage. And while that is 4 more votes than AB 1998 received in 2010, it remains below the 21 vote threshold needed for passage.

We are disappointed in this missed opportunity to dramatically reduce plastic pollution and waste in California, and save consumers hundreds of millions in one-time use bag costs.But regardless of the outcome of this legislation this year, the fate of the plastic grocery bag is sealed—the plastic grocery bag, which only came on the scene in the 1970’s, will be extinct in California before the end of this decade.

Every year when we bring this legislation forward, we have an opportunity to educate millions of consumers about the waste, hazards and costs posed by single use plastic bags. And the public is responding.

This year, we collected more than 14,000 signatures in support of phasing out plastic grocery bags. Consumers are voting with their feet, eschewing single use plastic bags in favor of durable, reusable bags and recycled paper. Across California, consumption of single use plastic grocery bags—which peaked in 2005, is going down, from more than 21 billion bags annually in 2005 to about 14 billion bags today.

Additionally, over the last 5 years, more than 75 California cities and counties have adopted ordinances banning single use plastic bags. The bans adopted to date are reducing California plastic generation by 3 billion bags, and ordinances currently under consideration have the potential to reduce plastic by another 2-3 billion bags annually.

So while Senate Bill 405 may be tabled for this year, the campaign to eliminate single use plastic packaging and waste will continue.

It's Crunch Time for Plastic Bag Bill

Friends,

Thank you for your past support.

We really need your help right now if we’re going to pass a critically important bill. We’re just 14 days away from a ‘live or die’ vote in the State Senate on SB 405 (Padilla), which would ban single-use plastic bags in California and allow stores to sell reusable and paper bags.

It’s crunch time!

We all agree that the economic and environmental costs of single-use bags are simply too high. We’re spending tens of millions to clean up plastic bag pollution; paying higher grocery bills to cover the cost of bags; and risking the lives of thousands of marine animals who die when they ingest or become entangled in plastic bags.

It’s got to stop.

The Plastics Industry keeps trying new tactics—filing lawsuits, trying to skew education curriculum, lobbying and making campaign contributions— but they haven’t stopped the momentum that continues to build for a statewide bag ban. In fact, just this week the California Supreme Court refused to consider a petition to review their unsuccessful case against LA County. Now they’re trying something new.

Attack Ads:

I’m asking for your support today because Bag Manufacturers continue putting out radio and TV ads and falsely claiming that “junk science” is behind the efforts to keep plastic bags out of the waste stream, waterways and oceans.

They’re trying to “save” the plastic bag by attacking paper bags as Greenhouse Gas producers and bashing reusable bags as health hazards. They’ve even resorted to calling plastic “the real green bag.”


All the money they spend on flashy info graphics and slick advertising can’t change the facts:

• A comparison of paper and plastic bags shows that the industry’s claims against paper are knowingly false—paper bags produce 59% less GHG over their lifecycle, and use less fossil fuel.

• Various industry-funded studies claiming reusable bags cause illness are grossly misleading and contain numerous other flaws. Simply washing reusable bags when they get dirty virtually eliminates the risk of illness.

• They claim that phasing out plastic grocery bags will cost 2,000 California jobs, and that most reusable bags are made in China. But two California companies that still make plastic bags have already diversified to make other products including reusable bags. There are more California companies manufacturing reusable bags (7), than are still making single use plastic (2).

• They continue to claim that plastic bags are 100% recyclable. The truth is less than 5% of plastic bags are actually recycled each year. And the production rate is outstripping the recycling rate by double digits.

• We’re falling behind—Californians used 14 billion single-use plastic bags in 2010. And each year more plastic bags are distributed, disposed and littered than the year before.

Will you help by making a contribution right now?

The next few weeks are crucial. The plastics industry is pulling out all the stops and we have to be ready to respond.

Every contribution makes a difference.

These are corporate giants who continue to rake in profits, but time and time again they’ve refused to take responsibility for the long-term damage their products do to wildlife and the environment. We know they have million-dollar budgets for campaign donations, advertising and lobbying; we can’t match them dollar for dollar. But with our drive and passion, and support from people like you, who care about the impacts of plastic bag pollution, we can make a difference!

We’ve been working to ban single-use plastic bags for years. It’s time for the rest of the state to join the 75 California communities like LA County that are taking a leadership role by passing local ordinances and standing up to the plastics industry in the process.

Let’s do this!

Thanks so much for your support,

Mark Murray

Executive Director, CAW

The Road Ahead for Recycling

My Friends:

We have some great challenges and opportunities ahead in 2013 that I need to share with you, but first I want to recap some of the highlights of the just completed 2011-12 legislative session - one of our most successful with a great deal to be proud of:

  • Launched free and convenient recycling programs for used paint and carpets
  • Successfully blocked corporate green-washing in the legislature and in the marketplace - products with false and misleading environmental claims
    have literally been pulled from the shelves!
  • Developed market-based incentives to drive the expansion of California’s manufacturing infrastructure and jobs for recycled plastic and tires.
  • Under our nation-leading Bottle & Can Recycling law a record 16.7 billion beverage containers were recycled last year.

And most significantly:
This past July, the opportunity to recycle was finally extended to virtually every California apartment building, school and business! This was a multi-year campaign, but thanks to your support, and the leadership of Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, California now has in place the nation’s most ambitious pollution prevention and recycling policy in the nation —75% by 2020! We are on track to recycle and compost an additional 22 million tons of waste per year by 2020.

So What’s Next?

The recent elections have created an opportunity for bold action. We know that simply diverting waste from disposal is only half the battle. It’s time to think (and act) bigger and bolder!

The extraction and processing of the planet’s virgin material resources to make increasingly single use, litter-prone and disposable products and packaging results in the generation of massive pollution and waste long before they make it to the landfill or even the recycling bin.

When we reduce packaging and waste and make things from recycled materials, we substantially reduce the pollution, energy and waste associated with manufacturing.

To take on these Big Picture issues, CAW has put forward a bold vision for conserving resources and reducing pollution and waste.

Waste Not California! is the plan we have put forward to help continue California’s transformation to sustainable economy. This is more than simply a laundry list of problems and solutions. Based on California’s 30 plus years of recycling policy success—success that you have helped us achieve—we can demonstrate with real data that our existing investments and commitments to a recycling society have done substantially more than reduce pollution and waste. Our efforts have resulted in green jobs, economic expansion, and lower costs for ratepayers.

For 2013, we are proposing to build on our proven track record of success by targeting problem waste materials and waste generators and putting forward solutions that combine consumer convenience and opportunity to recycle, with market-based incentives for manufacturers and businesses to design for recycling and the use of recycled materials. Those that don’t adapt will be forced out of the marketplace.

Plastic Bags.
Just 7 years ago, California was being swamped with plastic bags. Today,
thanks to CAW success in the courts and at the local level, single-use
plastic grocery bag pollution has been reduced by 53%. We’re half-way there.
Now it’s time for the State Legislature to phase out single-use plastic
grocery bags once and for all!

 

Plastic Bottles.
The recycling rate for the nine billion plastic bottles covered by a CRV is 75%. Additional market-based incentives have increased in-state processing, manufacturing and jobs for recycled plastic. But most of the 6 billion plastic bottles and containers that are not part of the program continue to be littered and landfilled. It’s time to expand the Bottle Bill to recycle all plastic containers!

Fast Food Packaging.
Virtually every California household now has access to convenient curbside
recycling. But most fast-food packaging, including polystyrene, poly-coated
paper, PVC and other multi-layer packaging remains a contaminant in that
system and effectively ‘non-recyclable’. And because these materials are
littered or simply blow from garbage trucks and landfills, they are a growing
source of marine pollution. It’s time to set aggressive waste reduction
and recycling goals for the Fast Food sector, while prohibiting packaging
that is incompatible with our recycling and composting infrastructure.

E-waste 2.0.
In 2003, California led the nation in enacting the first E-waste Recycling
Policy on TVs and computer monitors. Today California continues to lead the
nation recycling 100,000 tons of these devices annually. But in the last
decade, the spectrum of toxic electronics grown and only become increasingly
short-lived. It’s time to upgrade California’s successful E-waste to
require manufacturers to ensure convenient recycling of all toxic
electronics.

Mattress Recycling.
On the last night of the legislative session, CAW came within 13 minutes of
passing the nation’s first Mattress Manufacturer Recycling law. We got beat
by the clock, not the opposition, and in 2013, we will be back with our
Producer Responsibility policy to make mattress recycling convenient and
mandatory.

 

Food Waste.
California disposes of more than 6 million tons of foodwaste annually, and
this is the largest source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—from landfills.
And while households contribute a portion of this, half is generated by the
commercial sector (food processors, grocery stores, restaurants, etc). CAW
has crafted a comprehensive policy for reducing and recovering the organic
fraction of the waste stream. Through increased composting and energy
recovery, we can turn this ‘waste’ into an environmental and financial asset
for California agriculture and the state. It’s time to stop landfilling
food scraps and yard trimmings and feed the soils that feed us!

This is an ambitious agenda. But recently enacted political reforms have opened a window whereby a new generation of policy makers in Sacramento appear ready to set aside ‘politics as usual’, and embrace a thoughtful and reasonable package of policies aimed at both reducing pollution and waste, while simultaneous growing the state’s green economy.

But in order to make this happen we need your help. We need your letters. We need your phone calls. And we need your continued financial support. We have a very experienced team of policy leaders, researchers and political organizers in place. But we are facing opponents—primarily in the plastics and chemical sector—that have demonstrated their willingness to do, say, and spend whatever it takes to spin falsehoods and confusion about the environmental impacts of their products.

Going into 2013, we need to know we will have the resources to get our message out to policy makers, the public, and to you if we are going to be successful in countering the Campaigns of Misinformation.

I hope we can count on you to support our work and make the most generous contribution you are able to. This is the time to make a tax-deductible contribution to support the research and education work of Californians gainst Waste Foundation.

With your help, I hope to be writing again soon with more good news! Thank you once again for your continued support of recycling and CAW.

Sincerely,

Mark Murray
Executive Director

P.S. – When you contribute to CAW you help keep California's recycling revolution moving forward. We've accomplished a great deal with your support in the past. I hope to hear from you again soon.

Bottle Bill: Mixed Results for CA Container Recycling

While the latest CA Beverage Container Recycling Rates show continued high--82% overall—container recycling rates, the picture is less rosy for Plastic Beverage Containers.

For the 3rd year in a row, plastic container recycling rates have fallen (from a high of 73% in 2009, to just 67% in 2011). And for the first time plastic container market share (44%) has surpassed Aluminum cans (42%), as the dominant beverage container type.

These two trends mean that we are effectively trading containers with high recycling rates (90% recycling for aluminum cans and 84% for glass bottles) for plastic beverage containers with lower (67%) recycling rates.

Additionally, special interest ‘loopholes’ in the beverage container recycling law means more than 250 million recyclable plastic bottles remain exempt from the program.

Despite existing opportunities, incentives and infrastructure, more than 350,000 tons of plastic containers continue to be littered and landfilled. This is bad for our environment as well as our economy.

California-based plastic processors are struggling to get a sufficient supply of recycled plastic to meet manufacturer demand. Increasing the use of recycled plastic in California manufacturing means both jobs and reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

The cost of ‘not recycling’ these plastic containers--to local governments and the environment--exceeds $250 million annually. But if we were to recycle this same material, it as has an economic value to California’s economy of more than $172 million.

The choice is simple. It’s time to close the loopholes and update California’s proven plastic container recycling incentives.

Help us expand plastic bottle recycling in California. Support our work.

Senator Strickland Proposes Government Warning on Grocery Bags

California Republican State Senator Tony Strickland has proposed SB 1106, which would require government warning labels on reusable bags and at stores where bags are sold. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Commitee on Monday, April 23. 

While we are opposed to the bill in its current form, we want to encourage Senator Strickland’s apparent embrace—however misplaced--of the ‘precautionary principle’. In that spirit, we have provided Senator Strickland with suggestions in the following ‘Oppose unless amended’ letter.

 

April 16, 2012

Senator Tony Strickland
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA  95814  

Re:  SB 1106 (Strickland) Grocery Bag Warning Labels – Oppose Unless Amended

Dear Senator Strickland:

In its current form, we must oppose your SB 1106, which would require that every ‘Reusable Bag’ sold in this state carry a prescriptive government warning label that reads (in 10 point type):

 

“WARNING: Reusable bags must be cleaned and disinfected between uses to prevent food cross contamination. Failure to do so can cause serious illness, cancer, or birth defects resulting from food-borne pathogens. Once used for other purposes, reusable bags should not be used for carrying groceries.”

We believe a government mandate requiring consumers to ‘clean and disinfect (bags) between uses’ is unnecessary, patronizing, and frankly absurd. None of the ailments cited in the second sentence of the above warning has ever been linked to the use of reusable bags.

The bill contains a number of findings regarding dire consequences resulting from contaminated food and food borne illnesses. However, not one finding makes any connection between known or suspected incidents of food-borne illness and the use of reusable bags. Subdivision (j) of the findings raises the concern:

“A sudden or significant increase in the use of reusable bags without a major public education campaign on how to reduce the risk of cross contamination would create the risk of significant adverse public health impacts.”

However, we don’t need to speculate on the prospect of a significant increase in the use of reusable bags—it’s already occurred. Over 43 California jurisdictions have adopted ordinances banning single use plastic bags and promoting reusables. About 1 in 5 Californians live in a jurisdiction that has banned plastic bags, and that number grows monthly. According to the California Grocers Association, in California communities that have banned plastic bags, 75-90% of consumers bring their own bag. LA County reports a 94% reduction in all single use bags. Despite this sudden and significant growth in the use of reusable bags in these communities and across the U.S, there has been no increase in the incidence or reporting of associated food borne illness.

In the hierarchy of real and potentially problems associated with the use and mis-use of products for which a government mandated warning label might possibly be warranted, a consumers use of a reusable grocery bag must rank near the bottom.

However, if it is your belief that such an extraordinary level of governmental oversight and guidance is necessary, we would ask that you balance the threat level associated with various means of carrying groceries by amending SB 1106 to include the following additional labeling and signage requirements that address more likely public health threats associated with grocery bags:

1)      No person shall manufacture, sell, or distribute in commerce a plastic bag that does not contain the following warning label in 10-point type:

“WARNING: The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 25 children die every year in the United States due to plastic bags. To avoid the danger of suffocation and choking, keep this plastic bag out of any home with a baby or small child. Plastic bags also kill birds, turtles, whales and other wildlife. Even after being properly discarded, plastic bags can blow from trash cans, recycling bins, and landfills where the littered bags pose a serious threat to wildlife through entanglement, choking, ingestion and potentially death.”

2)      No person shall manufacture, sell, or distribute in commerce a paper bag that does not contain the following warning label in 10-point type:

“WARNING: Handling or folding this bag may result in a paper cut. All cuts should be cleaned with soap and water and covered with a clean dry bandage. Infected minor cuts rarely turn into systemic problems, but if the red margin of the wound starts to look streaky or the red starts to follow veins in streaks, this is a sign of serious, potentially fatal infection of the bloodstream and needs emergency treatment.”

3)      The following warning shall be conspicuously displayed on a five-inch by eight-inch sign with 18 point type near any display where grocery bags are handled by consumers.

“WARNING: Improper lifting of grocery bags may result in injury to the lower back. Always lift with your back straight and knees bent. Lifting a 20 lb bag of groceries 20 inches away from the body will place 400 lbs of compressive force on the spine. Never bend your back to pick something up. Lower back pain costs Americans $50 billion annually.

We urge you to reconsider SB 1106 in its current form.

Sincerely,

Mark Murray
Executive Director

Share your thoughts with Senator Strickland on his website.  

CAW News Release: The Failure of Plastic Bag Recycling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT - Mark Murray, 916-443-5422

Report Reveals the Continued Failure of Plastic Bag Recycling -- Less than 5%

By all measures, efforts to recycle single use plastic grocery bags have failed.

A comparison of data from two recent reports shows that from 2009 to 2010, a modest increase in plastic bag recycling (27 million lbs) was swamped by the substantially greater growth in plastic bag generation and disposal (220 million lbs).

Analyzing the most recent data from across the country, it appears that single-use plastic bags grew to a staggering 115 Billion in the US in 2010, and despite stepped up efforts, less than 5 percent of those bags are being recycled.

The new recycling report was released today by the Plastic Industry’s American Chemistry Council: National Postconsumer Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Report. It shows promising growth in the recycling of ‘shrink wrap’ and other plastic film, collected in the commercial sector. The report does show a modest growth in single-use plastic bag recycling in 2010, compared to 2009, but that number is dwarfed by the US EPA’s reported 220 million pound growth in plastic bag generation during the same period.

“By every measure, the recycling of single-use plastic bags is a failure,” said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste. “It’s telling, that after spending all this money on a report analyzing plastic bag recycling, the Plastic Bag Industry and ACC were apparently too embarrassed to actually report the plastic bag recycling rate."

California is the only state that monitors plastic bag and film recycling and has a retailer funded plastic bag take-back opportunity at virtually every grocery store. Its latest report (2009) shows that just 3% of plastic bags generated are recycled in the state. If the reported growth rate is to be believed, the 2010 recycling rate is about 4%.

The report estimated that “bags make up 40 to 55 percent of the commingled bales purchased from retail program.” But the California report shows that plastic bags represent less than 6% of plastic film collected at retail stores. This adjustment would substantially reduce the volume of plastic bags reported as recycled versus overall mixed film.

The inclusion of plastic bags in the few curbside recycling programs that have experimented with accepting them shows that--while plastic bags represent one of the smallest fraction of materials collected--they account for a disproportionately high percentage of program costs.  Estimated at less than half of 1% of the waste stream in either San Jose or Sunnyvale (two jurisdictions who banned plastic bags last year), these nuisance products continue to be a problem even after properly “disposed.”

The City of San Jose estimated nearly $2 million in annual costs to manage plastic bags during its curbside bag recycling program, with $1 million of that attributed to repairs of jammed processing machines, and over a quarter of that amount from street cleanings and contamination in compost facilities. A recent analysis from the City of San Francisco, which did not recycle plastic bags but was the first in the nation to ban them, estimated $3.1 million in costs for collection, disposal, recycling impacts, and street cleanings to manage plastic bag litter.

“This report demonstrates that pumping additional resources and public relations into the myth of recycling plastic grocery bags is doomed to fail. It’s time for the industry to cut their losses on a product that will likely be banned from the market-place before the end of the decade, and focus on the recycling of those plastic products and resin types that are likely to survive,” said Murray.

I Need Your Help

You know that this has been a great year for recycling and for CAW, and we’ve appreciated the help of all our supporters. Together we’ve accomplished a great deal (see below). But with the clock running out on the year, we find ourselves just short of our year-end fundraising goal.

I’m hoping that I can count on you one more time to help put us over the top. You can click Here and make your tax deductable contribution on line now, or email me at murray@cawrecycles.org and let me know what you can pledge to support our work in the new year. Thanks. 

We accomplished a great deal this year, and we have an ambitious plan for 2012. But we  need your help.

With nearly 35 years of policy experience and expertise, and the support of individuals like you,  Californians Against Waste has demonstrated that we can overcome the special interests and get things done:

•    Governor Brown signed all four CAW-sponsored bills, one of which establishes the most ambitious recycling goal in the nation for California.  AB 341 (Chesbro) sets a 75 percent recycling goal for California by 2020. The measure requires every commercial business, institution and apartment building to implement recycling programs by July 2012 and creates a new waste reduction blueprint for the state.
•    AB 1149 (Gordon and Wieckowski) helps to develop domestic markets for recycled plastics by providing $20 million in market-based incentives to in-state processors and manufacturers of recycled plastic. 
•    Additionally, SB 567 (DeSaulnier) ensures truth in environmental advertising by expanding the scope of existing limitations on misleading labeling from bags and food packaging to all plastic products, while AB 525 (Gordon) extends CalRecycle's successful Rubberized Asphalt Concrete tire recycling program to support viable markets for recycled tires. 
•    CAW successfully initiated enforcement campaigns to expose false and misleading environmental marketing claims. CAW assisted the CA Attorney General’s office in bringing a public legal challenge against product makers for using false and misleading claims regarding bioplastics. 
•    CAW helped expose the plastic industry’s misleading campaign to fabricate benefits of plastic bags in the state’s education curriculum and scare consumers away from reusable bags. 
•    CAW helped block a campaign to falsely advertise the recyclability of polystyrene.  
•    CAW has been working with dozens of cities and counties across the state to enact phase-out of problem plastic bags and other single-use disposable plastics.
•    CAW won its case before the California Supreme Court defending the rights of local governments to enact ordinances phasing out costly single use plastic bags.
•    CAW initiated market-based incentives have substantially increased the market capacity and jobs for closing the loop on PET plastic recycling in California.

These are just a few of the ‘Headline’ accomplishments—there are more.  And we could not have achieved these successes without the input and contributions from supporters like you.Thank you!

I hope you will take a look at what we’ve accomplished together for recycling in California and consider making a year-end contribution tosupport our work.

With your help, CAW has created a "recycling revolution" here in California – a revolution to conserve resources and protect public health and the environment.  At the same time, we are building a successful and sustainable Recycling Economy in California, that provides both economic value and jobs at a time when we desperately need both.

•    Almost all Californians will now have access to convenient curbside pick-up of recyclables! 
•    Under the Bottle Bill that you’ve helped us protect and expand, Californians annually recycle more than 17 billion beverage containers—double the national average.  
•    Through our collective efforts, the average California household has reduced its weekly trash output from more than 57 pounds per week in 1989 to less than 26 pounds today—keeping over half a billion tons of trash out of landfills and incinerators. 
•    These policies have also helped to create over 125,000 jobs in the state and a recent report found that setting a national goal of recycling 75% of our waste (similar to the goal CAW helped set in California) would create over a million more jobs.

We should all take great pride in these successes, but there’s still so much more that can and must be done to reduce waste and increase recycling in our state. California is still disposing of 30 million tons of solid waste, including: 465,000 tons of recyclable glass, 1.2 million tons of recyclable metals, and 4.8 million tons of recyclable paper. By just cutting this waste in half, we can save 28.8 million trees, conserve 595,000 BTUs of energy and reduce GHG emissions by 188,000 metric tons!

Please take a moment right now, and renew your generous support by mail or online. Your online contributions to support our research and education work are tax-deductible. If you need us to prepare an invoice for your contribution, please let us know.

With your help, we can build on the momentum begun this year and continue our efforts to build a recycling economy in California.  Thank you once again for your support of CAW.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a successful and Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Mark Murray
Executive Director 

Look what you've helped us accomplish!

What a year it’s been for CAW and recycling in California! We have a lot to be proud of and we’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with such a wide array of recycling adocates and stakeholders.

The opportunities of a pro-recycling Governor, a new Director at CalRecycle, and the ability to demonstrate the jobs and economic benefit of recycling have led to an unprecedented level of policy and program success and new partnerships for Californians Against Waste:

•    Governor Brown signed all four CAW-sponsored bills, one of which establishes the most ambitious recycling goal in the nation for California.  AB 341 (Chesbro) sets a 75 percent recycling goal for California by 2020. The measure requires every commercial business, institution and apartment building to implement recycling programs by July 2012 and creates a new waste reduction blueprint for the state.
•    AB 1149 (Gordon and Wieckowski) helps to develop domestic markets for recycled plastics by providing $20 million in market-based incentives to in-state processors and manufacturers of recycled plastic. 
•    Additionally, SB 567 (DeSaulnier) ensures truth in environmental advertising by expanding the scope of existing limitations on misleading labeling from bags and food packaging to all plastic products, while AB 525 (Gordon) extends CalRecycle's successful Rubberized Asphalt Concrete tire recycling program to support viable markets for recycled tires. 
•    CAW successfully initiated enforcement campaigns to expose false and misleading environmental marketing claims. CAW assisted the CA Attorney General’s office in bringing a public legal challenge against product makers for using false and misleading claims regarding bioplastics. 
•    CAW helped expose the plastic industry’s misleading campaign to fabricate benefits of plastic bags in the state’s education curriculum and scare consumers away from reusable bags. 
•    CAW helped block a campaign to falsely advertise the recyclability of polystyrene.  
•    CAW has been working with dozens of cities and counties across the state to enact phase-out of problem plastic bags and other single-use disposable plastics.
•    CAW won its case before the California Supreme Court defending the rights of local governments to enact ordinances phasing out costly single use plastic bags.
•    CAW initiated market-based incentives have substantially increased the market capacity and jobs for closing the loop on PET plastic recycling in California.

These are just a few of the ‘Headline’ accomplishments—there are more.  And we could not have achieved these successes without the input and contributions from supporters like you.Thank you!

I hope you will take a look at what we’ve accomplished together for recycling in California and consider making a year-end contribution tosupport our work.

With your help, CAW has created a "recycling revolution" here in California – a revolution to conserve resources and protect public health and the environment.  At the same time, we are building a successful and sustainable Recycling Economy in California, that provides both economic value and jobs at a time when we desperately need both.

•    Almost all Californians will now have access to convenient curbside pick-up of recyclables! 
•    Under the Bottle Bill that you’ve helped us protect and expand, Californians annually recycle more than 17 billion beverage containers—double the national average.  
•    Through our collective efforts, the average California household has reduced its weekly trash output from more than 57 pounds per week in 1989 to less than 26 pounds today—keeping over half a billion tons of trash out of landfills and incinerators. 
•    These policies have also helped to create over 125,000 jobs in the state and a recent report found that setting a national goal of recycling 75% of our waste (similar to the goal CAW helped set in California) would create over a million more jobs.

We should all take great pride in these successes, but there’s still so much more that can and must be done to reduce waste and increase recycling in our state. California is still disposing of 30 million tons of solid waste, including: 465,000 tons of recyclable glass, 1.2 million tons of recyclable metals, and 4.8 million tons of recyclable paper. By just cutting this waste in half, we can save 28.8 million trees, conserve 595,000 BTUs of energy and reduce GHG emissions by 188,000 metric tons!

Please take a moment right now, and renew your generous support by mail or online. Your online contributions to support our research and education work are tax-deductible. If you need us to prepare an invoice for your contribution, please let us know.

With your help, we can build on the momentum begun this year and continue our efforts to build a recycling economy in California.  Thank you once again for your support of CAW.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a successful and Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Mark Murray
Executive Director

P.S. Please feel free to send me an e-mail to let me know your issues and priorities for the coming year.

California Bottle Bill: 2011 Wrap Up

Several changes and updates to report for our 2011 Wrap Up regarding California’s Beverage Container Recycling Act (the Bottle Bill):

By the Numbers:

•    Better than 16 billion containers were recycled(82% of those sold--more than one million tons) in the fiscal year ending June 30 (Aluminum 96%; Glass 85%; Plastic 68%).
•    The program remains 100% self-sufficient, and the most cost effective in North America, with 98.7% of funding coming from CRV, and an additional 1.3% coming from supplemental ‘processing fees’ on beverage producers.
•    Roughly 74% of program funds are returned to consumers as ‘Refund Values’. 
•    Overall, the program provided nearly $300 million to California’s recycling infrastructure—including $135 million for local governments and curbside recycling—no recycling program in the country comes close to matching this.
•    While continuing to achieve the program objective of 80 percent or better recycling for the year, total net program costs (to producers and consumers) were fully offset by market scrap values, returning a net benefit of $44 million to the State’s economy, and providing more than 26,000 jobs.

Leadership. In October, Governor Jerry Brown appointed recycling policy guru Caroll Mortensen as Director of CalRecycle. Additionally, Jason Marshall—the long-time program lead for most of the last  decade, has been promoted back to Deputy Director of the Department of Conservation. In his place, as ‘acting chief’ of the Division of Recycling, is Kent Harris.

State of the Fund.  The October 10 Fund Report shows the program to be solvent with a healthy fund balance of better than $180 million (equal to 14% or more of expenditures) thru fiscal year 2012-13. However, annual program expenditures continue to exceed program revenues in the range of $85-90 million. In order to sustain program success in the long run, program updates and modifications will need to be developed and adopted in the next 18-24 months in order to bring revenues and expenditures into balance. 

Scrap Value. We have seen near record high avg scrap values for most material types: $1760/ton for Aluminum; $502/ton for PET Plastic and $343/ton for HDPE. The overall market scrap value paid to California recyclers for the more than 1 million tons of beverage containers diverted from disposal this past year was more than $358 million!

Processing Fees and Payments. CalRecycle has confirmed, that—due to record high PET scrap prices--there will be no processing payment or processing feesfor PET plastic starting January 1.  If PET scrap prices drop 10% or more below the cost of recycling ($458/ton), CAW will call on CalRecycle to exercise their authority to re-establish PET processing payments. Processing Payments will continue for CRV Glass at $88.26/ton and CRV HDPE at $289.94/ton. Additionally, the Processing Fee provisions of the law continue to work to discourage growth of costly to recycle 3-7 plastics. These containers continue to account for less than 1 percent of beverage containers sold.

Plastic Market Development (PMD) Payments and AB 1149. In October, the Governor signed CAW sponsored AB 1149 which extended the successful Plastic Market Development program to 2017 and also redirects 50% processing fee offset savings to the PMD program, increasing annually support for California plastic recycling markets to more than $20 million.

Commingled Rate. CalRecycle is contemplating not having a 2013 individual commingled rate due to limited resources. They have released the 2012 state and individual commingle rate. Note that the new rate will not take affect January 1, 2012 but sometime in early spring. CalRecycle hosted a  webinar Dec 14 from 9-11 to provide training to industry for the new methods.

Glass Recycling. While glass recycling enjoyed another year of record high recycling rates (85%), the surveyed cost of recycling glass continues to exceed the statewide average scrap value, resulting in both manufacturer processing fees (two-tenths/cent/container sold), and a projected $45 million draw on the fund to make recyclers whole. Glass has long been a recycling success, and container manufacturing is an important part of the state’s economy. In the coming months, CAW will be exploring strategies to both increase the market value and reduce the net cost of recycling glass. CalRecycle has hosted and continue to host glass cleaning workshop and consumer load limit, to finetune the program, reduce fraud and have a robust program.

Future workshops. 
•    Glass Cleaning Workshop - how to handle contaminant glass, and reexamining the current regulations. Jan 18th
•    Consumer Transaction Load Limit – Workshop #3 – CalRecycle is contemplating lowering the consumer load limit. The proposed daily allowable consumer load limit is 50 pounds for aluminum and plastic, and 250 pounds for glass.  The proposed workshop date is January 17th.

As a stakeholder in California’s Beverage Container Recycling program, your input and financial support are both critical to our efforts. Please take a moment to provide us with your perspectives and recommendations on improving California beverage container recycling. We also hope you will consider making a contribution to CAW to support our work. Contributions can be made online at:

Mail your contribution to:           

Californians Against Waste 
921 11th Street, Suite 420
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-443-5422


Wishing you a successful and Happy New Year!

Mark Murray
Executive Director
Californians Against Waste
www.cawrecycles.org
916-443-5422

Support our work by making a tax deductible online contribution today! 

Plastic Pollutes Education Curriculum

We urgently need your support today to overcome a well-funded disinformation campaign by single-use plastic bag makers and their lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

The Plastics and Chemical Industry will stop at nothing to expand single use plastics. An Investigative Report appearing today in newspapers across the State reveals that the ACC was able to have false and misleading information on bogus ‘benefits of plastic bags’ inserted into the State’s Environmental Education Curriculum!

Earlier this month, Rolling Stone Magazine reported that the ACC’s strategy includes major spending for “well-placed political donations, intensive lobbying at both the state and national levels, and a pervasive PR campaign…”

“With…more than $120 million in annual revenues, the ACC and its members are using their deep pockets and extensive political connections to overturn bans on plastic bags, cast doubt on legitimate scientific studies and even file lawsuits against anti-bag activists.”

Despite our victory in the Supreme Court earlier this summer, CAW goes head-to-head with the plastic industry’s attorneys in Marin County today to counter the industry’s latest attempt to overturn a local plastic bag ordinance.

At the same time, we are working with local elected officials in dozens of cities across California to enact new bans on single use plastics.

Single use plastic bags pose obvious and significant costs to society and the environment:

•    So-called ‘free grocery bags’ actually cost California consumers more than $250 million in higher grocery costs.
•    Plastic debris can cause harm to species worldwide through entanglement, suffocation, poisoning, and starvation.
•    Plastic bags are one of the most commonly found items in litter clean up.

All of these efforts and challenges have stretched our staff and resources. See that 'Donate' button in the upper right corner of the screen? I need you to take a moment and click it and make a special contribution to support our work to phase out single use plastics. It's modest contributions of $25 to $100 from regular folks like you that help sustain our work. We can't hope to match the funds of the plastics industry. But I promise you that every dollar we recieve is effectively used to support our team of activists and attorney's working at the state and local level to combat waste, conserve resources and protect our beautiful and unique California environment.

While the plastic industry’s lobbying and campaign contributions may have effectively killed any chance of passing a statewide ban on single use plastic bags in California this year, we do have an opportunity in the final 3 weeks of the legislative session to pass SB 568 that would phase out foamed polystyrenepackaging. But we need your help!

Just as with the plastic bag ban, the Plastics Industry and Chemical Council are pulling out all of the stops to kill this measure.

Please support our work with your online contribution today.

Bottle Bill Advocates Should Look to CA Success

With growing (high value) US manufacturing demand for recycled PET,  the economic as well as environmental benefits of increased collection of containers for recycling has never been greater (and the cost lower).

Responsibility for the political failure to advance new and expanded container recycling laws rests jointly with Beverage Producers who are unwilling to increase the price of their products to internalize environmental costs, as well as with some of my colleagues in the environmental community who remain dogmatically attached to an outdated, inefficient and insufficient deposit scheme.

Advocates of increased container recycling will continue to fail if we insist on forcing retailers to take on recycling, while actively excluding curbside programs.

At the same time, the nearly 20 year experience with universal curbside in most states has demonstrated that this system--while great for fiber, greenwaste (and even foodwaste), is unable to provide sufficient high quality glass and plastic to US manufacturers.

There is another path. This month, Oregon took a giant political leap forward by coupling an expansion of their Bottle Bill with a plan for shifting some collection responsibilities from retailers to recyclers.

The now 20 year old California experiment has demonstrated that 'incentives' are more important than convenience in driving recycling rates. For the 2nd year in a row, beverage container recycling rates have exceeded 82%. And while virtually every California household has curbside recycling, just 15% of beverage container volume goes through this system. Curbside has no complaints though. Last year, California curbside programs received more than $170 million from the program-- about $1.20/HH per month.

The program’s market-based recycling incentives (for consumers, collectors, processors and manufacturers), has driven the vast majority of volume to the lowest cost recycling operators, and helped develop and expand in-state manufacturing for most of the material collected (this summer CarbonLITE will open a PET 'bottle-to-bottle' recycling facility with 3 times the capacity of the Nestle facility).

And while California is the only state that directly requires manufacturers to internalize the recycling cost of their packaging choices, the overall system still delivers high level recycling at the lowest cost per container (to consumers) of any container recycling system in North America.