With Earth Day around the corner, California legislation to restrict the use of plastic bags is taking the inside track.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners of the Oxnard Harbor District passed a resolution last week urging the restriction of noncompostable plastic bags and made it a part of its environmental policy.
“We can always do something next year,” said Board President Jason Hodge, “but why wait for another 100,000 bags to enter the ocean? As a Port Commissioner, I say the time is now.”
In California, only 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled, according to CalRecycle. It has been estimated that the bags compose 60-80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of all floating debris worldwide.
Hodge said the board will be taking Res. 1106 to all elected officials in the county and to leaders in Sacramento. He added that the commission has sent letters to be listed as supporters of other current plastic bag legislation, Senate Bill 405 and Assembly Bill 158.
SB 405 (Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles), which would phase out single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores and pharmacies, is being supported by local environmental groups and business groups such as the California Grocers Association.
Senators Hannah Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, and Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, both expressed support for the bill.
“We need to phase them out as quickly as possible,” said Jackson.
AB 158 (Marc Levine, D-Rafael) would prohibit a store with more than $2 million in annual sales or retailers and more than 10,000 square feet of floor space that also have a pharmacy from providing a single-use plastic bag to a customer.
Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, has not taken a formal position on AB 158, but has voted against similar legislation in the past. Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, supports the bill.
While many California cities and some counties have taken steps to ban single-use plastic bags, Ojai is the only city in Ventura County to have implemented a ban.