Oceana Poll Finds Californians Support State Policies to Reduce Single-Use Plastic - Oceana USA

Oceana Poll Finds Californians Support State Policies to Reduce Single-Use Plastic

Over 7 in 10 California Voters Support Policies That Curb Plastic Packaging in Online Shopping

Press Release Date: April 13, 2022

Location: Washington, D.C.


Melissa Valliant, Ashley Blacow | email: mvalliant@oceana.org, ablacow@oceana.org | tel: 410.829.0726 (cell), Ashley Blacow

Today, Oceana released the results of a new poll finding that 86% of California voters support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic. Additionally, 91% of registered California voters say they are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans, 72% support policies that specifically reduce the use of plastic packaging from online shopping, and 60% say they are willing to pay more for products that don’t use plastic packaging.  

The California legislature is considering legislation to phase out unnecessary single-use plastic packaging added to online purchases when shipped. Assembly Bill 2026, authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), aims to address the increasing threat of single-use plastic packaging as online shopping skyrockets, with California leading the country in online sales. If signed into law, AB 2026 would require large retailers to comply by Jan. 1, 2024, and small online retailers to do the same by Jan. 1, 2026. Oceana is co-sponsoring AB 2026 along with Environment California and CALPIRG. 

Practical alternatives to single-use plastic film and polystyrene packaging are available — including various types of paper cushioning, corrugated cardboard, and reusable e-commerce envelopes and boxes — and are being used by some companies to safely deliver housewares, cosmetics, food and agriculture products, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and other fragile goods to consumers’ homes. 

“There’s no ignoring the fact that the plastic pollution crisis is escalating — and that this trend is exacerbated by the popularity of online shopping. Californians have spoken loud and clear in these polling results: They’re not only unhappy with the amount of unnecessary plastic waste that is added to their online purchases, but they’re also ready for action to eliminate it,” said Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Oceana’s Pacific policy and communications manager. “California lawmakers have the solution at their fingertips. Now is the time to pass AB 2026 and curb the unnecessary single-use plastic that inundates online purchases in our state.” 

Key findings among surveyed registered California voters include: 

  • 86% support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic.  
  • 91% are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans. 
  • 72% support policies that reduce the use of plastic packaging from online shopping. 
  • 60% are willing to pay more for products that don’t use plastic packaging. 
  • 74% are frustrated with how difficult it is to avoid single-use plastic. 
  • 83% want their elected officials to support policies that reduce plastic pollution.  
  • 87% support national policies that reduce single-use plastic.  

Packaging associated with products shipped into or consumed in California generate nearly 3.4 billion pounds of plastic bags, wraps, and films every year. The vast majority of this plastic is landfilled. While some tout recycling as the solution, most municipal recycling programs in California do not accept shipping envelopes, plastic air pillows, bubble wrap, or expanded polystyrene (including packing peanuts and molded foam). Waste from flexible plastic — the category of plastic used in e-commerce shipments — increases disposal costs for local communities, their residents, and businesses, and is known to be the deadliest type of plastic to marine animals.  

“As an online retail consumer, I have been appalled at the amount of plastic packaging that accompanies my orders,” said Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “No one wants these materials. We can’t put them in our recycling bins, and they are overflowing curbside trash bins and taken to landfills at a huge expense to local governments. While some companies have made strides to reduce their plastic packaging problem, much of the industry has said, ‘Wait, we are working on something, wait.’ There’s been many, many years of waiting, and we cannot wait any longer. It’s time for us to take action. There are alternatives available that work for even the most fragile items, but it takes California to push the market to set that standard.”  

The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan polling company Ipsos, surveyed roughly 379 adults in California between Nov. 5 and 9, 2021.  

Not only is plastic threatening marine life and entering our food, air, and water; it also greatly contributes to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Plastic production also disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color by polluting their air, water, and soil. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.  

In addition to AB 2026, nearly a million California voters signed a petition to certify a ballot initiative for the statewide November 2022 ballot. If passed by voters, the Stop Plastic Pollution initiative will be the most comprehensive single-use plastics policy in the nation that addresses different types of single-use packaging and foodware.  

To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastic 

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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.