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Single-use bottles, to-go food containers and plastic bags are highly energy intensive products – a lot of fossil fuels are used to make and transport them to stores. Single use plastics have a very low recycling rate, and there is not a robust recycling market for the small percentage that makes it to a blue bin. Their lightweight composition allows them to escape easily from trash cans, meaning they end up in our oceans, streams, and rivers. They then photodegrade into tiny bits that never go away. Our oceans are filling up with these plastic bits, where they attract other chemicals and become toxic ‘pills’ that work their way up the food chain. The disposal side of plastics, like so many other fossil fuel products, is not taken into account when calculating their cost.


Single Use Plastic Bags
CEC championed single use bag reduction laws starting in 2008. Working with a local coalition, we achieved success in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and unincorporated Santa Barbara County. These laws eliminated more than 100 million bags in our region and helped push the state to take action.

In 2016, CEC was part of a statewide coalition advocating for the passage of Prop 67. The effort was successful and California now has the nation’s first statewide bag reduction law. This law has been implemented seamlessly and has eliminated the distribution of 12 billion bags annually.

Single Use Expanded Polystyrene (EPS or Styrofoam)
CEC is currently working with other groups to push for laws reducing the distribution of food service and retail EPS. This product, like plastic bags, is lightweight and escapes collection systems easily to end up as litter on our beaches and in our waterways.

The only city in our county with a current EPS reduction law is Carpinteria. We worked with them to expand their law to include retail sales and they voted unanimously to do this in 2018. We expect the City of Santa Barbara to pass an EPS law in July 2018 that will go into effect in early 2019.

Straws and other items
We are encouraging the cities of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara to take action on straws, stirrers and plastic cutlery. By implementing an “on request” policy, businesses can save money and customers will have less plastic clutter in their drawers. We expect this issue will come before both city councils during the summer of 2018.

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