Plastic bags are an epidemic. Californians alone throw out 123,000 tons of plastic bags every year.

Many of these end up in waterways, littering beaches, or in sea turtles' stomachs when they mistake the bags for jellyfish. In fact, 441,493 plastic bags were removed from coasts around the world in one day last year!

COARE supports smart plastic bag legislation around the country. Bag bans and fees work by eliminating plastic bags at the point of sale, and by providing a price incentive to bring your own bag, or skip one entirely. This is a proven effective step at reducing plastic bag litter: San Jose noted a 60-90% decrease in plastic bag pollution after its ban, and in Europe, Ireland reported a 95% drop in plastic bag litter after their 2002 tax.

Together with the Clean Seas Coalition and many legislative and organizational partners, COARE worked to pass the Los Angeles County and San Jose bag bans, as well as its most recent success - the CA statewide ban SB270.

California's landmark decision, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, bans single-use plastic bags at the point of sale for certain large retailers, imposes a 10 cent fee on paper bags, and provides 2 million dollars for CA manufacturers to adapt to the reusable bag industry. COARE was thrilled to work with the senators that championed the bill, Alex Padilla (D–Pacoima), Kevin de León (D–Los Angeles), and Ricardo Lara (D–Huntington Park/Long Beach). SB270 sets a great precedent for successful plastic bag legislation, and marks a huge leap for the health of our oceans!

However, there is an ongoing challenge to SB270 as opponents seek to include a referendum on the ballot, hoping for voters to overturn it. Out of state plastic companies, including giant Hilex Poly, have spent more than 6 million dollars fighting SB270, with little regard to the impact on California's environment. COARE joins Californian vs. Big Plastic as a supporter of SB270 and opponent of the referendum effort. We urge California voters to vote YES on 67 and NO on 65.

COARE is currently working in NYC to support the proposed Int. 209, which would impose a 10 cent fee on all single-use bags from retail and grocery stores. While not banning plastic bags outright, this is a huge incentive for people to bring their own reusable bags, or just skip one entirely. NYC spends 10 million dollars a year to transport 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills, as the majority of the 5.2 billion bags used yearly are not recycled through a voluntary take-back program. It's time to take a step forward and keep the city clean!

What you can do to help

  • Support "bag-ban" bills in your state or city
  • When you order take-out, tell them you'll bring your own bag, and remind them not to include plastic-ware. Better yet, tell them you'll also be bringing your own containers.
  • Plan ahead, or carry a small collapsible bag in your car or purse for unexpected shopping stops.