The California Assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources today voted down two bills that would have weakened California’s landmark statewide ban on single-use plastic bags signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. Assemblymember Matthew Harper’s (R-Huntington Beach) AB 190 and AB 191 were voted down after witnesses from around the state provided testimony on the damage plastic bags have caused in the environment and the financial costs that local governments have had to bear in efforts to clean them up. Californians Against Waste, sponsor of the statewide ban, strongly opposed the bills.
"These regressive bills would have turned back the clock on the progress Californians have made away from a throw-away society and toward a more sustainable economy," CAW Executive Director Mark Murray said. "We know Californians support banning these bags, and data from over 130 cities and counties that have already enacted local bans prove that we can reduce costs for consumers and local governments and rid our beaches, oceans, rivers and streets of this ubiquitous pollution."
CAW continues to lead the fight to protect California’s statewide plastic bag ban from a referendum financed by out-of-state plastic bag companies. Learn more about the coalition supporting the statewide ban by visiting www.CAvsBigPlastic.com.
The Natural Resources committee also took action on several bills supported by Californians Against Waste that promote recycling and protect human health and the environment.
"California’s recycling and organic waste recycling companies are building the kind of closed-loop systems our state needs to build a green economy and lead the fight against climate change," CAW Legislative Coordinator Nick Lapis said. "The bills will help them implement the latest innovations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing organic waste in landfills, and prevent or better control problem items like plastic microbeads, needles and batteries."
The Committee passed AB 888, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by Californians Against Waste, which would ban the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. Plastic microbeads enter oceans and sources of fresh water by the trillions, attract environmental toxins and are consumed by fish and other animals, polluting the food chain.
"A single product can contain over 350,000 microbeads," Policy Analyst Sue Vang told the committee. "Plastics are persistent, are toxic sponges in our environment and lead to pollution in our food chain."
AB 888 represents the strongest microbeads ban in the country. The bill does not exempt certain plastic microbeads that manufacturers say will degrade in high temperatures because microbeads do not encounter high temperatures on their way from bathrooms to waterways and the ocean.
The Committee also passed AB 876 (McCarty) and AB 1045 (Irwin), which would support the composting and anaerobic digestion of organic waste. Additionally, the Committee passed AB 1159 (Gordon), which would help ensure safe and proper disposal of household batteries and medical sharps, such as needles, through the adoption of producer responsibility requirements for the manufacturers of these products.