As the California Single-Use Bag Reduction Act (AB 1998) reaches a critical vote in Senate, an impressive list of leaders from Hollywood’s entertainment industry voiced their support for this landmark legislation. The letter was presented to members of the California Senate on August 10, 2010 as that body prepares to vote.
What follows is the complete text of the letter and the signatories.
August 10, 2010
The Honorable Darrell Steinberg
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: Support for AB 1998 (Brownley) Single-Use Bag Reduction Act: SUPPORT
Dear Senate President Pro-temp Darrel Steinberg, Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Members of the California State Senate:
As members of California’s arts and entertainment community, we write to express our support for AB 1998, The Single-Use Bag Reduction Act. Off the coast of California is the world’s largest waste dump, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, most of it floating plastic trash that travels ocean currents from land. Every year since measurements began in the late 1990’s, the amount of plastic in our ocean has grown; and plastic fragments now outnumber plankton by a factor of at least 6:1.
Not only does plastic pollution accumulate “out there” in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but it washes up on every single beach in California in quantities that outpace the most formidable taxpayer funded and volunteer beach clean-up efforts in the world. During a three-hour clean-up o International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2008, plastic bags were the second most common trash item found on beaches, lakes and streams, accounting for 1.4 million bags! Discarded plastic bags are so common in our environment that in a catch basin cleanup of along the Los Angeles River, plastic film and bags are 43% percent of all trash collected!
Californians use an estimated 19 billion single-use plastic bags every year and the state spends an estimated $25 million annually to clean up and landfill littered bags. While the plastics industry continues to advocate and implement recycling initiatives, recycling rates in California for plastic bags are less than 5%. Not only is recycling plastic bags ineffective, it is also costly for little-to-no gain.
Plastic bag pollution affects both wildlife and human health. Animals often eat bits of plastic that they mistake for food, and endure internal injuries, intestinal blockage, and starvation. Plastic also attracts persistent organic pollutants like DDT and PCBs that accumulate on the plastic bits in concentrations far greater than the surrounding waters. These highly toxic plastic bits are then consumed by fish that may end up on our dinner plates.
AB 1998 will create one uniform policy for addressing single-use bags to encourage consumers to use reusable bags, the most sustainable alternative. For the benefit of California’s environment, economy and the tourism that our beautiful beaches and ocean resources attract, please pass AB 1998.
Ed Begley Jr.
Gale Anne Hurd