With environmental concerns along the San Diego coast ranging from the slowly collapsing bluff to rising sea levels, local representatives in the Legislature and an ocean advocacy organization are helping to lead the push to address the plastics beneath the surface.
In the Legislature, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is in committee in both chambers and faces a Sept. 13 deadline to make it to the governor’s desk.
The legislation, AB 1080, was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and includes Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) among its coauthors. The companion bill in the Senate, SB 54, was authored by Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
Gonzalez led a rally in Sacramento Aug. 21 to urge her colleagues in both houses to pass the bill, which would require manufacturers of single-use plastic to transition to reusable, compostable or recyclable materials.
“Our local communities are in the middle of a waste crisis, and our neighborhoods and waterways are polluted with litter,” she said. “We need to act, and we need to do more than one-off bans on products. AB 1080 takes a comprehensive approach to the plastics problem. It’s time to pass AB 1080 and make California a leader in reducing pollution from single-use packaging and plastics.”
Approximately 12 billion metric tons of plastic will end up in landfalls or the environment by 2050 based on current trends, according to the peer reviewed journal Science Advances. At the beginning of this year, to help reduce plastic waste, a new California law took effect that prevents full-service restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless requested.
Oceana, an environmental advocacy group that has nine offices spanning the globe and leads environmental campaigns all over the world, has been supporting the legislation as part of its ongoing efforts in Southern California.
“They’re polluting our environment, but they’re also causing health issues,” said Brady Bradshaw, Oceana’s Southern California campaign organizer.
Bradshaw attend the rally with Oceana’s California campaign director Geoff Shester. In addition to reducing plastic pollution, Oceana has been working in this region on campaigns against offshore drilling and the shark fin trade.
“Most people are really aware of what’s happening,” said Bradshaw, who has been with Oceana for two years after starting a nonprofit called Ocean Defense in North Carolina.
Oceana conducts three- to five-year campaigns to improve the ocean. Recent ones have culminated in a ban on offshore drilling in New York State waters, a shark fin trade ban in Canada and a successful lawsuit to protect overfished dusky sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
“We want to give the globe’s oceans a chance to regenerate,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a big picture approach.”