We Need Your Help to Fight Plastic Pollution in California

We Need Your Help to Fight Plastic Pollution in California
Brian Yurasits

By Linda Escalante, NRDC Action Fund advisor

I have been personally and professionally involved in the fight against marine plastic pollution for many years, including advocating for state and local laws to ban plastic bags and polystyrene foam (commonly known as Styrofoam). I also helped to pass a recent state law that restaurants hand out straws only upon request. I’ve worked with local partners like Teamsters, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), and Pacoima Beautiful to set up a zero waste recycling system for the city of Los Angeles. Now, I am very excited about a new measure planned for the statewide ballot. Plastics Free California is an opportunity to increase pressure on the plastics industry to rein in the harmful environmental impacts of their single-use products, and to rebuild and support California’s recycling system. But we need your help to make sure this initiative makes it onto California’s statewide ballot.

We’ve all seen the horrible and deadly impacts of plastic pollution on wildlife, marine mammals, turtles, and birds. And, a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum predicts that there could be more plastics by weight than fish in the ocean by 2050. We must reduce the amount of harmful plastics littering our communities and making their way into into our streams, rivers and oceans, as well as the ever-increasing amount of plastic filling our landfills. That’s why I am a proud proponent of the Plastics Free California ballot measure, along with Michael Sangiacomo, CEO of Recology, and Caryl Hart, my fellow California Coastal Commissioner.

Plastics Free California would direct the state to adopt regulations that would be the most comprehensive in the nation by requiring all single-use plastic packaging and foodware to be recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2030. It would also require the total amount of single-use plastic packaging and foodware sold in California to be reduced by no less than 25% by 2030 and levy a new fee on producers of single-use plastic products to help fund recycling, waste reduction, composting and litter cleanup. At least 25 percent of the new revenues must be spent in disadvantaged communities.

We’re in the midst of a public health and economic crisis due to COVID-19. Reasonable accommodations may be necessary to ensure that grocery workers and the public at large are safe from the spread of the coronavirus until we have the outbreak under control. Yet, the plastics industry is exploiting this crisis and spreading misleading information to try to undo all of the progress we’ve made in California and across the country. The Plastics Free California initiative can help our state recover by creating jobs in recycling, composting, sustainable farming and habitat restoration.

We need a plastics-free California now more than ever. The U.S. recycles only 9% of its plastic trash, and plastic packaging (most of which is single-use) represents 40% of total production of plastic products. Furthermore, the production of most single-use plastics is bad for the climate and an ever-growing threat, as 99% of plastics are derived from fossil fuels and their refining is among the most GHG-intensive industries in the manufacturing sector—and the fastest growing. In 2013, NRDC published a shocking report, where we found that, regardless of their size and distance from the ocean, California communities are collectively spending nearly $500 million annually cleaning up litter and preventing it from entering waterways.

California must rebuild its waste and recycling systems in the face of closed foreign markets and the increase in plastic packaging and waste. If the Plastics Free California Ballot Initiative is approved by a majority of California voters, we’ll get a good head start.

Reducing plastic production and boosting recycling helps protect wildlife and our communities from the harmful impacts of plastic trash. It also helps maintain California’s momentum in the climate fight and as a global environmental leader. Please help us qualify Plastics Free California for the statewide ballot.

Due to COVID-19 Stay Home Orders, signature gathering activities at grocery stores and in communities have been suspended. We need to take a few extra steps to ensure that the initiative has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. If you have a printer at home, we NEED YOUR HELP to make this happen.  Please be patient with the analog process of mailing in signatures.


  1. Print the petition, preferably on double-sided recycled content paper.
  2. Review the initiative text and top funders sheet
    1. Full text of the measure is provided on pages 1-7 of petition PDF
    2. Top funders sheet attached separately
  3. Fill in your county
    1. On page 8, fill in the county that you live in and are registered to vote in
    2. If you can safely coordinate/ connect with others in our household or current location to sign the petition, please include their signatures as well. They must be registered to vote in the same county. If they are registered to vote elsewhere, they will need to print and fill in a separate petition.
  4. Fill in the signature box with your:
    1. Printed name and residence address
    2. Signature
    3. City and zip code
  5. Fill in the Declaration of Circulator box with your:
    1. Printed name and residence address
    2. Date range in which you obtained your signature(s) (can be the same day)
    3. Date you executed (signed) the Declaration of Circulator (must be signed last)
    4. Location of signing
    5. Signature

(If multiple people in your household/ location are signing the same petition, designate one person to be the Circulator after all signatures have been gathered. The execution date must be the last date in the signature-gathering range or later.)

Mail completed petition right away, but no later than June 15.

  • Place the signed, stapled petition (all 8 pages) in an envelope and seal securely.
  • Use 2 Forever ® letter stamps (currently worth 55 cents each) for a standard letter envelope. Use 3 Forever ® stamps for a 9” x 12” envelope (add 2 Forever® stamps per additional petition included after the first).
  • Place in an outgoing mailbox to the following address:
    26500 W. Agoura Rd. #102-146
    Calabasas, CA 91302

Questions? Please direct any questions to [email protected]

Don’t forget to sign up and endorse the ballot initiative at www.plasticsfreeca.org, learn more about the problem in English/Spanish, and spread the word #PlasticsFreeCA.