California’s environmental activists can’t afford to lose the statewide Plastic Bag Ban. This was one of Mark Murray’s main messages to the audience on March 4 at the Humboldt State University College Creek Great Hall. Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste (CAW), returned to his alma mater as a featured speaker in Zero Waste Humboldt’s 2015-16 Zero Waste Solutions Series.
Murray discussed CAW’s advocacy work over the years, the importance of graduating students to enter the field of environmental advocacy, and emphasized that the environmental community cannot afford passage of the referendum on California’s November ballot. Defeating this attempt to repeal the statewide bag ban law will send a clear signal that Californians want the out-of-control proliferation of wasteful plastics to stop.
Out-of-state plastic companies have already spent $3.2 million to qualify a referendum for the ballot to overturn California’s plastic bag ban law, passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor in 2014. Plastic companies are expected to spend an additional $50 million more on paid advertisements and public relations.
Their likely strategy will be to confuse California voters, but the facts about plastic bags are clear.
• 13-19 billion plastic bags are discarded in California every year.
• 3-5 percent of plastic bags are actually recycled into a new product.
• 140+ California cities and counties have already banned plastic bags.
• $208 million is the annual revenue plastic companies make in California selling single-use plastic bags.
• $34 to $107 million in taxpayer dollars are spent cleaning up plastic bags from storm drains and streets every year in California. Locally, ZWH has estimated that this expense is significant.