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[GreenYes] FYI: waste issues addressed in marine debris strategy released by CA OPC for comment




FYI - please circulate and encourage public comment

TO: Ocean and Coastal Community

FROM: Drew Bohan, Executive Policy Officer

DATE: Juy 29, 2008

SUBJECT: California Ocean ProtectionCouncil Staff Releases Draft Strategy
to Reduce Ocean Litter- Statewide
Plastic Bag and Container Ban Proposed

California's Ocean Protection Council (OPC) staff today released a draft
strategy to reduce and eliminate ocean litter by banning plastic bags and
containers statewide. In support of the OPC's historic resolution last year to
eliminate marine debris, the draft recommendations also call for plastic
manufacturers to recover and dispose of their products and for product user fees
to be assessed.

"There is no question that these kinds of steps are critical if we're going to
address the issue of marine debris in a serious way," said Secretary for Resources Mike
Chrisman. "The release of these proposed
recommendations will continue our open public dialog on this issue and enhance
the discussion about how we may best work together to reduce the threats to our
ocean and coast."

The release of the OPC staff draft strategy is designed to set the stage for
actions that, when implemented, will have far reaching benefit for ocean health.
If accepted by the OPC, most of the recommendations would require legislation to
be enacted.

The implementation strategy identifies three primary approaches that California
should take to eliminate marine debris. California should: (1) establish a
"take-back" program for many types of product packaging that would require
plastic packaging manufacturers to take these products back and dispose of them
properly; (2) institute a statewide prohibition on single-use plastic bags and
polystyrene takeout containers; and (3) impose fees on other packaging.

OPC staff is seeking comments on the draft implementation strategy in writing by Aug. 21.
Staff will incorporate changes
to the draft based on comments received. The OPC is also soliciting public
comment during its meeting Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. in Half Moon Bay. An updated
recommended strategy that will include public input will be presented to the OPC
for its consideration at this meeting.

On Feb. 8, 2007, the OPC passed a marine debris resolution (linked below) that
identified 13 recommendations for reducing and preventing ocean litter. The
council noted that this litter, commonly known as marine debris, harms hundreds
of marine species, from birds that eat small pieces of debris and feed it to
their young, to marine mammals that get entangled in larger pieces.

According to the Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, 60 to 80
percent of the world's ocean litter is made up of plastic. In some areas, 90 to
95 percent of the marine debris is plastic. State and local governments spend
millions of dollars every year on ocean litter cleanup. In fiscal year 2006, Caltrans spent
$55 million to remove litter
and debris from roadsides and highways. Uncollected, most of this will
ultimately drain into the ocean. Marine debris also negatively impacts
California's $46 billion tourism-based ocean-dependent economy. Despite an
ongoing effort for decades to reduce ocean litter, the proliferation of plastic
debris has increased exponentially.

California communities are not alone in recognizing plastic bags as a
significant threat to the marine environment. Several states, including Alaska,
Massachusetts, New York, and Washington are considering plastic bag
prohibitions. China, Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and several
other countries recently banned plastic grocery bags. In 2002, Ireland imposed a
tax on the distribution of plastic grocery bags that resulted in a 95 percent
drop in plastic bag use since the tax was implemented. Whole Foods Market
recently stopped offering plastic bags in its nearly 300 stores.

Full and partial polystyrene food container prohibitions have been implemented in
many California cities including: Alameda, Aliso Viejo, Berkeley, Calabasas,
Capitola, Carmel, Emeryville, Fairfax, Hercules, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach,
Laguna Woods, Los Angeles, Malibu, Millbrae, Oakland, Pacific Grove, Pittsburg,
San Clemente, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica,
Scotts Valley and West Hollywood.

The counties of Ventura, San Mateo and Sonoma have also imposed some kind of
prohibition as have the cities of Rahway, N.J., Portland, Ore., and Freeport,
Maine and Suffolk County, N.Y.

For a copy of the draft implementation strategy or instructions for submitting
comments to the OPC, visit the Web site:

To view the OPC's Feb. 8, 2007 marine debris resolution visit:

Please help us disseminate this information by forwarding this message to your
distribution lists.
To subscribe/unsubscribe from the Ocean Protection Council's public e-mail list
server, please visit:
Please note: This is a posting only email account. Please contact Ocean
Protection Council staff if you have


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