Plastic Industry's SB 270 Referendum Qualifies, Plastic Bag Ban Supporters Announce More Local Bag Bans (Press Release)

Contact: Mark Murray, 916-443-5422, 916-995-8655 or Steven Maviglio, 916-607-8340

For Immediate Release


Also Announce New Support for Local Bans in San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara County, Oceanside and American Canyon

SACRAMENTO – California vs. Big Plastic, the coalition of local officials and environmental, labor, and business groups supporting the state’s plastic bag ban, today issued the following statement after California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certified signatures gathered by the plastic bag industry that will force a referendum in November 2016 on the state’s plastic ban signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown (SB 270).

In addition, the group announced that officials from several additional California jurisdictions said they will move forward with local plastic bag bans of their own, as the effective date of the law is frozen by the qualification of signatures. They include San Diego, Santa Barbara County, Sacramento, Oceanside, and American Canyon.

“It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” said Mark Murray of Californians vs. Big Plastic. “Every poll shows that Californians strongly support the law, and the $30 million to $50 million it will cost the plastics industry to launch a full-fledged campaign in 2016 will be proven to be an act of political malpractice, particularly since nearly half the state will no longer have plastic bags by election day. We are confident that Californians will protect a law that is already in place in 138 communities that will save marine wildlife, reduce litter, and save taxpayers millions ofdollars.

“Single-use plastic shopping bags pose a costly burden on our environment and our economy. After listening to the public, hundreds of local elected officials, the state legislature and the Governor have moved to eliminate plastic bags. Virtually all of the plastic bags sold in California are produced by just three out-of-state corporations.

And these corporations and their chemical suppliers have made it clear that they will do and say anything, and pay any price to continue to sell plastic bags in California.”

An investigation into deceptive signature gathering practices of the plastic bag industry is pending with the California Attorney General after widespread complaints of fraud by voters.

recent USC Dornsife/LA Times poll showed solid and broad support for the law with 60 percent approval. That poll also shows that support for banning plastic bags is even higher in communities that have already eliminated them.

“The citizens of San Diego treasure our vibrant communities and beautiful coastline, as well as a healthy ocean, and that’s why the pollution caused by billions of these single-use plastic bags simply can’t continue,” says San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner.

“Eliminating the statewide uniform ban on single-use plastic bags is bad for our environment and economy,” notes Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal. “It would result in the consumption of hundreds of millions of non-biodegradable bags and hundreds of local bag ban regulations that would make compliance both confusing and costly for businesses. This is why I stand with other community leaders and residents of Santa Barbara County to ban single-use plastic bags.”

Murray noted that the plastics industry was soundly defeated in the only previous vote on a plastic bag ban in California. Voters in the town of Fairfax supported its bag ban by more than a 4-1 margin (78.5-21.5%) in 2008.

"Out-of-state plastic bag companies may have millions of dollars to buy their way onto the ballot, but they're just delaying California's inevitable transition away from wasteful plastic bags,” said Sarah Rose of the California League of Conservation Voters. “Time and time again Californians have shown big polluters that citizen voices are more powerful than those special interests, and we'll do it again. Two words for plastic bag manufacturers: Game on."

"It's a shame that deceptive tactics in collecting signatures allowed this referendum to qualify," said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California. "Fortunately, Californians are smart voters. Once they understand the real intent of this measure, they'll vote with the environment. They'll vote 'yes' to retain the reasonable statewide bag ban."

"Out-of-state polluters are going to keep on dumping millions of pounds of plastic into our ocean,” said Dan Jacobson of Environment California. “Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years."

“This is nothing more than a greedy attempt by out of state plastic bag makers to mislead California’s voters for their own gain,” said Linda Escalante, Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “ Single use plastic bags litter our neighborhoods and harm our rivers, lakes, coast, ocean and wildlife and there is broad support for the new law to phase them out for good.”

"Surfrider Foundation has been working tirelessly over the past seven years in communities and at the statewide level to address the issue of plastic pollution,” states Surfrider Legal Director Angela Howe. "It’s disturbing to think that the plastics companies can swoop in and undo a major statewide victory for our coasts, but rest assured that Surfrider and our coalition partners will continue to fight for this ground-breaking environmental law to come to fruition in California.”

A link to the contributions by plastic companies to the campaign can be found Here.  For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CAvsBigPlastic.

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CAW's Mark Murray Discusses Local Bag Bans with Capitol Public Radio

Capitol Public Radio's Katie Orr recently sat down with Californians Against Waste Executive Director Mark Murray to discuss his work with local governments and community groups throughout California to pass bans on single-use plastic grocery bags, which are polluting oceans, rivers and communties by the billions every year.  Murray pointed to efforts with then-San Francisco Mayior Gavin Newsom to implement cutting-edge local policies.

"Cities are laboratories of innovation," said Lt. Governor Newsom. "And the capacity at the local level to innovate, the entrepreneurial spirit. Less tribalism in terms of the politicization of issues. It's not a Democratic plan to clean up graffiti or a Republican plan. There's just an initiative to clean up the graffiti and clean the streets."

In 2014, Murray worked with the Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators to pass a statewide ban, the first in the nation.  Since the passage of SB 270, out-of-state plastic companies have spent over $6 million on paid signature gatherers and public relations to put a referendum to repeal the ban on the November 2016 ballot.

Help CAW and CAvsBigPlastic defeat the referendum and protect Calfornia's landmark legislation.  

News Roundup of New Report on Ocean Plastic Pollution in Journal Science

A new report in the Journal Science shows huge increases in the amount of plastic pollutions in the world's oceans.  

Californians Against Waste continues to fight to protect our state's first-in-the nation statewide ban on single-use plastic bags against an agressive campaign spending spree by big out-of-state plastic companies to repeal the law.

Here are just a few of the many articles on the report that are coming out of countries around the world:

More Food Waste to be Recycled in 2015 under CAW legislation

Sustainable Cities Collective is highlighting AB 1826(Chesbro), a major legislative success for Californians Against Waste in 2014 that will ensure large commerical sources of food waste will dispose of their organic material through composting and anaerobic digestion.

By removing thousands of tons of organic material from landfills, the bill also reduces emissions of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to climate change.

“We’ve been really good at recycling in California, such as bottles and cans,” says CAW Legislative Coordinator Nick Lapis. “But we haven’t done as good a job with commercial waste.”

Ending the landfilling of food waste and other organics through source reduction and composting will remain a priority at CAW – stay tuned for our legislative updates.

Campbell Bans Polystyrene Foam Foodware

Yesterday evening, the Campbell City Council adopted the latest local ordinance restricting expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) foodware containers.

The ordinance goes into effect in food service establishments and other food service providers within City limits on June 1, 2015.

Plastic food containers are one of the top ten items found during the annual coastal cleanup. EPS is hard to manage and clean up due to its lightweight quality, especially after it has become brittle and broken up into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces. It is also not cost-effective to recycle EPS, particularly if the material has been contaminated with food. Learn more about the issue

See the list of local EPS ordinances in California.

Earlier this year, California banned single-use plastic bags statewide under SB 270. CAW and other environmental groups may now attempt to reduce other common types of single-use plastic pollution in the 2015-2016 legislative session. 

CA vs. Big Plastic Garners Endorsements from 115 Local Elected Officials

California vs Big Plastic, a coalition of which CAW is a part of, now has 115 local elected officials signed on to endorse efforts to protect SB 270 and the monumental ban on single-use plastic bags in California. The list comprises mayors, council members, and county supervisors from a wide range of geographic locality and party affiliation.

Despite facing a multimillion dollar referendum effort initiated by out-of-state plastic manufacturers days after Governor Brown signed SB 270 into law, the statewide ban continues to experience overwhelming support from voters and local government leaders alike.

At least one council member from six of California’s "Big 10" has publicly endorsed CA vs Big Plastic’s efforts, as well as members from at least 10 cities that had not previously opted to implement a plastic bag ban.

These endorsements are a testimony to the strong support seen across California. Since 2007, 135 municipal and county governments have adopted some form of a ban on single-use plastic bags, and recent polling from the Los AngelesTimes estimates 60% of Californians would vote to affirm the ban.

A complete list of endorsements can be found at

You can keep up to date by "liking" us on Facebook; and following us on Twitter @CAvsBigPlastic.

Food Industry Drags Heels On Recyclable & Compostable Packaging (NPR)

NPR features a recent report by As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council that highlights some problems with the existing packaging and opportunities for the restaurant and beverage industry. 

The report includes a survey of 47 companies in the restaurant and beverage industry on the  following criterias:  source reduction, or switching to reusable packaging; recycled content; recyclability and materials use; and boosting materials recycling.

None of the 47 companies, which included big players in fast food, beverages and groceries, earned the report's highest "Best Practices" status.

"What are companies doing to show that they have a personal and
financial responsibility to promote recycling? [We found] relatively
weak examples of leadership," Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow said in a
statement, "This industry has a long way to go."

CAW attempted to put pressure on the food industry to make more progress with their  food packaging with AB 904 (Feuer) and SB 529.  AB 904 (Feuer, 2007) and SB 529 (Leno) in 2013,  would have required fast food chains to use food packaging that is compatible with local recycling and composting infrastructure.  Unfortunately, both bills died.

Read the article.

Food Guru Mark Bittman Says Good Riddance to the Foam Take-Out

One of America's foremost food writers, Mark Bittman talks about polysterene and Big Plastic in today's NY Times article "Good Riddance to the Foam Take-Out Carton".

In the article, Bittman mentions NYC's ban on foam cups and other polystyrene foam packaging is a small but symbolic victory.  Volume wise, if the ban were totally  successful, it would reduce the amount of polystyrene in landfills by less than 50 percent, and the amount of overall curbside collection by less than half of a percent.

Symbolically, the ban generates hope. In addition to forcing both industry and consumers to seek alternatives:

"Combine the surge in these bans with the probably more important and increasingly popular bans of — or taxes on — one-time-use plastic shopping bags, and you start to see a pattern: municipalities and sometimes even states are asserting themselves against the “right” of industry to sell whatever it wants, and more of the public is willing to have government alter its behavior when the reasons are sound. (The just-passed soda tax in Berkeley fits into this pattern.) That combination is leading to victories for the environmental and public health movements, and it’s changing people’s behavior. "

He also mentions the CA Plastic bag ban referendum process where the 16-month delay will allow manufacturers to sell around 9 billion extra bags, worth as much as $145 million. 'That’s down from its pre-ban peak but still a staggering number when you consider almost all of them are used only once," was Bittman's commentary.

5 Tips to Reduce Your Food Waste

If you made a resolution to reduce your foodwaste for this new year, here are five ‪‎tips‬ to keep  you on track from KCET 

Cook from your fridge.
Learn to make a meal with what you already have, rather than starting with a recipe that requires you to run to the store for a slew of other ingredients. Look for perishable items in your fridge first before you open another box or can from your pantry.

When it's just too much, freeze it. Freeze excess food in your freezer until you're ready to use it. This goes for fresh food items you might not be able to use up right away, like meats, as well as cooked meals that you make ahead of time to bring in to work. Don't forget to label your bags or containers with the name and date of the dish — otherwise your freezer-burned foods might be bound for the trash as well.

Make a grocery list.
Lists will keep you organize, help you plan meals, eat well, and save money, and they also keep you focused at the grocery store. It also means you won't buy something that you already have home. 

Store your produce properly.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can actually keep for a week or two (and sometimes more) in ideal conditions, and they can easily be revived if they go limp. For most leafy greens, it's best to wash them once you bring them home, wrap them in a towel, then store them in a produce bag to keep the moisture in. Loss of moisture is what causes vegetables to go limp, including root vegetables like carrots and radishes. If those items have gone soft, simply soak them in a sink full of cold water. They'll crisp up after a couple of hours, and can even be stored in the fridge in a bowl of water (just remember to change the water every few days if it starts to look murky).

Know what the dated labels mean.
The "Best by," "Use by," or "Sell by" dates are more or less guidelines for the grocery stores, and do not equate to expiration dates for the food you're buying. 

Read the article here. 

Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr/Creative Commons

NYC Says EPS Foam Not Recyclable, Announces Largest Ban in Nation

Yesterday, officials in New York City announced that expanded polystyrene (eps) foam packaging, made from a material commonly called Styrofoam, will be banned from distribution or sale starting July 1.

This is the largest eps ban in the nation.

“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.”

The city adopted legislation in late 2013 to ban foam food containers unless they were "economically feasible" and "environmentally effective" to recycle. Dart, a manufacturer of foam based food packaging, lobbied hard against the passage of the legislation and urged for more recycling instead.

In the end, New York City confirmed what we've already seen in California. Styrofoam recycling is not cost effective, and the material comes with many issues because it is lightweight and can be contaminated by food and oils.

Learn more about the problem of polystyrene packaging.

Take a stand against the plastic industry, which is trying to overturn the California Bag Ban. Learn more about the campaign.

Changes to Carpet Stewardship Program Coming

CalRecycle just approved changes to the California's Carpet Stewardship program in a move expected to bolster carpet recycling in California.

Carpet America Recovery Effort, or CARE, administers California’s carpet stewardship program, which was established following enactment of AB 2398(Pérez) in 2010. The goal of the stewardship program is to divert carpet from landfills and recycle it into products such as new carpet, carpet cushion, plastic automotive parts, and building materials.

CARE’s stewardship plan includes recycling rate goals of 16% by 2016 and 24% by 2020. To date, however, the rate has not exceeded 13%, and CalRecycle deemed CARE to be out of compliance with its stewardship plan, which requires demonstration of continuous and meaningful improvements.

In order to increase carpet recycling, CARE issues per-pound incentive payments to processors and recyclers of used carpet. These payments are funded through an assessment added to the purchase price of new carpet.

CARE’s proposed changes to the existing plan includes increasing the incentive payments for specific carpet material and new incentive payments for material that was not covered in the program before, such as calcium carbonate, which is part of carpet backing, and for carpet tiles.

To cover these additional payments, the carpet stewardship assessment that retail customers pay on new carpet purchases will increase from 5 cents per square yard to 10 cents per square yard. The new assessment will add about $5 to the cost of carpeting an average home.

Click here for more details. 

"Farm to Fork to Farm"

The Sacramento Bee recently highlighted the efforts of a local nonprofit, ReSoil Sacramento, that picks up food scraps from restaurants and delivers them to local farms for composting - what's more, they collect the food on their bike!

ReSoil picks up food scraps from 18 local restaurants, including Hot Italian, Sun and Soil, and Selland’s Market Cafe. ReSoil recently passed the 60,850-pound mark for its scrap pickup, with zero-emission.

Three days a week, ReSoil staff haul 32-gallon
composting bins that they’ve picked up at restaurants, using custom-made trailers.

Not only does this endeavor help turn food waste into valuable compost materials, research has shown that composting can help soil sequester carbon and improve soil fertility and water retention. A recent UC Berkeley study showed that even a one-time dusting of compost substantially boosted the soil’s carbon storage, and the effect has persisted over six years.

CA will be seeing more commercial food waste collection thanks to the passage of AB 1826 (Chesbro), a CAW-sponsored bill.

Read the whole story here.

12 California Cities Plastic Bag Bans To Go Into Effect Today

With the start of a New Year, twelve California cities have bans on single-use plastic bags go into effect in January 2015, joining 138 other jurisdictions in the state with local bans. 

They include: Belvedere (1/9/15); Calistoga; Chico; Gonzales; Grass Valley; King City; Martinez; Mercury; Monrovia; Napa; Nevada City; St. Helena (all 1/1/15).

The bans will go into effect regardless of whether a challenge to the statewide law by the plastic bag industry that is slated to go into effect on July 1, 2015 is successful. The industry has spent $3.1 million to put the statewide measure on the November 2016, with 98 percent of the funds contributed by out-of-state bag manufacturers.

Learn more about our efforts to protect California's Bag Ban from out-of-state interests.