The following is an email I received from San Gabriel Valley environmental activist Wesley Reutimann. It is republished here, with permission. I urge you to take action on his request to call California State Senator Portantino and urge him to support SB54.

Good morning friends, family, and supporters of the environment!

In the next few weeks the fate of the latest attempt to curb the tremendous amount of single-use, non-recyclable plastics in the state of California may be decided.

Unfortunately at the end of the legislative session in 2018 a similar bill (SB 705-Allen) failed by two votes in the State Senate after receiving strong approval in the State Assembly (Senator Portantino failed to support the bill in 2017 and 2018, helping ensure its defeat in the Senate. State Assembly Member Holden supported the bill last year.)

When asked at an Environmental Forum in Pasadena on Sunday 5/5 if he supported SB-54, Mr. Portantino was non-committal in his response.

Your State Senator needs to hear from YOU that they should support for statewide action on plastic waste.

The American Chemistry Council and DART Industries (whose lobbying power anyone who participated in the successful 2014-2016 campaign to phase out single-use polystyrene carryout containers in Pasadena is familiar with) are spending millions every year to ensure we continue to trash our oceans and fill our landfills with single-use plastics. Your reps need to hear from you if this legislation is to have any chance of passage through the legislature.

What YOU Can Do To Help:

1) Call Your Legislators’ Office – This only takes 1-2 minutes and is the most impactful! Share your name, zip code, and that you’re calling to support SB 54 – the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.
Senator Portantino Capitol Office Phone: (916) 651-4025

Live in a different District? Find your Senator’s contact info here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

Assembly Member Holden Capitol Office Phone – (916) 319-2041 – The same bill is working its way through the Assembly as AB 1080

2) Sign this petition – Text copied below

3) Forward this information to others who live in the District

Thank you!!!

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We are a local community group collecting supporters from California State Senate District 25 to sign the petition below requesting Senator Portantino’s support of Senate Bill 54, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. By adding your name below you will be added as a signatory.

Not sure if you’re in District 25? Check your CA State Senate District here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

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Dear Senator Portantino,

We are writing as residents of State Senate District 25 to encourage your support for SB-54, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

The 926,935 constituents in our District generate an astonishing amount of trash; roughly 2,317,337,500 pounds on an annual basis (1). The actual pounds may be three times greater than this according to analysis done by the Zero Waste Pasadena 2040 planners (2).

With an ever-increasing amount of plastic waste found in our rivers, oceans, cities, and in the bodies of our marine mammals and birds, as well as microplastics in our food and water, we need to support SB-54. This will decrease our reliance on harmful single use plastics and improve inefficient recycling practices to create vibrant, healthy and sustainable ecosystems for our planet.

SB-54 is an opportunity for California to address the wide-reaching effects of our current waste streams. From health concerns, to the environment, to the practicality of waste collection and the costs of litter cleanup, many of these issues are becoming increasingly urgent. As documented in SB-54, the authors found that:

• Annual global plastic production is 335 million tons and rising. The United States alone discards 30 million tons each year.
• Virtually every gram of plastic ever created since the 1950’s continues to exist, either in a landfill or as pollution.
• In California, less than 15 percent of single-use plastic is recycled, and the cost to recycle plastics exceeds the value of scrap plastic.
• Before 2017, two-thirds of California’s recyclable material waste was sent to China every year. China now severely restricts the plastic it will accept.
• Over $420 million is spent annually by local governments in California to ameliorate litter and trash pollution of our waterways and other bodies of water.

Single use plastics such as plastic bags are used only briefly but will pollute the planet for centuries to come. According to the Center for Biological Diversity (3), plastic bags are used for only 12 minutes but will take more than 500 years to decompose. Even after decomposition, plastics will have broken down into toxic pollutants that then spread into the environment and water. As it becomes more difficult to recycle or export plastics, the US diverts more plastic to incinerators, which releases dioxin and other highly toxic materials into the atmosphere (4). In addition to toxic materials, the breakdown of plastic pollution also releases greenhouse gases such as methane and ethylene (5).

Despite the alarming nature of some of these statistics, we see the potential for a cleaner, healthier, stronger world through measures like SB-54. Closing our waste loop will reduce cleanup costs and prioritize Californians over other interests (6), especially in neighborhoods where environmental justice is a concern (7). In addition to reducing blight it will also drive local business in the creation and maintenance of reusable and sustainable packaging.

As District 25 stretches from the San Fernando Corridor to Mount Baldy, and contributes significantly to this problem, it is important for us to not only help solve this problem but to help lead the way. There is significant localized grassroots support for solving this problem:

• San Diego has banned polystyrene food and drink containers, egg cartons, ice chest coolers, aquatic toys for swimming pools, mooring buoys, and navigation markers
• Malibu has banned plastic straws, stirrers, and plastic cutlery
• Santa Monica has banned single use plastics for prepared foods
• San Francisco has banned plastic bottle sales on city property
• Los Angeles has banned plastic straws

Statewide support could further these local goals and continue to reduce litter and pollution in our district by bringing piecemeal initiatives into greater coverage, awareness, and enforcement. We hope to have your support for this cause during the vote, and your help in championing this bill as chair of the Appropriations Committee and our Senator.

Signed,
Ban Single Use Plastics (SUP)

(1) Based on approximately 2500 pounds per person annually. Columbia University <http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/wtert/sofos/biocycle.pdf>
(2) Based on 584,840 tons per year, this would work out to over 7800 pounds per person annually. <https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/public-works/street-maintenance-waste-management/recycling-resources/zero-waste-pasadena-2040/>
(3) <https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/sustainability/plastic_bag_facts.html>
(4) <https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/21/philadelphia-covanta-incinerator-recyclables-china-ban-imports>
(5) <https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200574>
(6) <https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article53351980.html>
(7) <https://www.kcet.org/earth-focus/why-communities-of-color-in-la-voted-against-plastic-bags

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