Activists Push for Bills to Reduce Plastic

SACRAMENTO -- According to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into oceans every year.

And now, some countries like China are no longer accepting recycling from the U.S.

That has now gotten the attention of lawmakers in California, who are hoping to combat the problem.

“I’m dressed up today as the bag monster,” said Geoff Shester, the California campaign director for Oceana.

While he may have looked crazy, the plastic bags Shester was covered in Wednesday were significant.

“This represents the amount of plastic bags that the average American uses per year,” he explained. “We’re finding them at the bottom of Monterey Canyon, one of the deepest spots off California, all the way up to the surface.”

Oceana just launched an international campaign to reduce the use of plastics.

Shester was in Sacramento Wednesday as part of a rally to support Assembly Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 54.

“It’s making sure that our products, the products that we use every single day for packaging and other things, are much more sustainable in the way they’re manufactured, in the way they’re collected and then turned back into other things,” said Sen. Ben Allen.

Allen authored SB 54, which will prohibit food from being served in single-use plastics in all state-owned facilities, as well as further regulate single-use plastic products and packaging.

“They’re crafted in a flexible way,” Allen told FOX40. “We’re committed to working with industries and consumer groups but this is, ultimately, about giving government the tools it needs to get a handle on this problem.”

Shester said he believes Allen’s bill, as well as AB 1080, will help solve the overall problem.

“Rather than going at bottles or straws or bags one at a time, this is looking at all the problems with single-use,” he said. “And it’s going to take a comprehensive approach to reduce those by three-quarters over the next 10 years.”

However, he said the legislation is not enough and it is up to everyone to try to use less plastic.

“People need to, obviously, support the legislation but I think the biggest thing is we need to move away from our throw away society,” Shester said.

The bill passed in the Senate with the support of two Republicans and AB 1080 passed in the Assembly. Now, they both go for a vote on opposite sides of the Capitol. If passed there, they will head to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for approval.

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