California Still Needs to Address E-Commerce Plastic Packaging
State Senate Ignores the Will of Californians who Overwhelmingly Support Reducing Single Use Packaging from Online Shipping
Press Release Date: August 11, 2022
Location: SACRAMENTO, Calif
Today, the California Senate Appropriations committee chose to hold Assembly Bill 2026 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), which would have required e-commerce shippers to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging added to online orders. Supported by more than 80 organizations and businesses, AB 2026 passed the Assembly in May and passed both the Senate Environmental Quality and Judiciary committees with strong votes but was held today by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislature failed to pass a similar bill (AB 1371) last year.
Single-use plastic packaging — including shipping envelopes, air pillows, bubble wrap, and plastic foam — becomes waste immediately after a package is opened. E-commerce businesses in the U.S. generated 601.3 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2020 alone. Most municipal recycling programs in California do not accept this type of plastic film, and almost all of this waste heads for landfills, incinerators, or the environment where it persists as a pollutant. Local governments and communities are left to bear the impacts and financial burdens of mitigation and cleanup. E-commerce packaging is prime for substantial reductions due to its environmental harm, readily available alternatives, and proven reduction strategies in other countries around the world.
Recent polling by Oceana found that 72% of California voters support reducing the use of plastic packaging from online shopping. Businesses and government have a role to play in addressing the plastics crisis, and right now the e-commerce industry needs to step up and take action to address its plastics problem.
AB 2026 co-sponsoring organizations CALPIRG, Environment California, and Oceana applaud the continued leadership shown by Assemblymember Friedman to protect our oceans, communities, and climate from plastic pollution.
“The amount of single-use, non-recyclable plastic being used in packaging only continues to skyrocket and its impacts on our environment are disturbing and costly,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman. “These plastics, used for a very short period of time, are ending up in our waterways, clogging our waste systems, and worst of all – they’ll take centuries to degrade. As we continue to shift more towards online retailers, we have to ensure they’re operating sustainably.”
In response to today’s decision, AB 2026 co-sponsors released the following statements:
“As plastic packaging use by the e-commerce industry in the U.S. is forecasted to grow by 99% over the next six years, significant reductions are urgently needed to curb the environmental, public health, and fiscal implications this plastic waste inflicts on California communities. Californians are unhappy with the amount of unnecessary plastic waste that is added to their online purchases and want action to eliminate it.”
“We know e-commerce shippers are well-positioned to significantly reduce the impact they are having on our planet by offering plastic-free shipping options because we are seeing action in other countries. It’s high time for e-commerce shippers like Amazon to take meaningful action in addressing their plastics problem in California and across the U.S.”
— Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager, Oceana
“Assemblymember Friedman’s cutting edge bill, AB2026, would have dramatically reduced the amount of unacceptable and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging waste that ends up choking our environment and harming public health.
“With more than 80 environmental groups and businesses across the state now supporting action, we have momentum to step up the pressure to push e-commerce merchants away from harmful plastics to sustainable alternatives that don’t pollute our communities.”
— Jenn Engstrom, State Director, CALPIRG
“Wildlife continues to be affected by the growing plastic pollution crisis, and the waste from online shopping is growing faster than any other sector. Without additional legislative action this year to tackle this source of plastic pollution, we must redouble pressure on retailers to step up and stop unnecessary plastic packaging and put wildlife over waste.”
— Laura Deehan, State Director, Environment California
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit USA.Oceana.org to learn more.
CALPIRG is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful interests that threaten our health, safety and wellbeing.
Environment California is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentcalifornia.org.