Amid recycling industry turmoil and mounting evidence of plastic pollution’s environmental impacts, Santa Cruz County is taking additional steps to curb its plastic waste.
Public works officials had worked since February to prepare a slate of potential new waste-curbing measures, gathering input from residents, businesses and other jurisdictions.
Tuesday, Aug 6, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles from county facilities. And the board directed staff to return in October with an ordinance imposing a fee on single-use cups sold at restaurants and other vendors across the unincorporated county.
“The issue of plastic pollution is real,” said 1st District Supervisor John Leopold on Tuesday. “This board has worked on it before and we will continue to be a leader on this issue.”
After China drastically restricted its import of recyclable plastics from the U.S., even recyclable materials are increasingly ending up in landfills. And as Santa Cruz County considered how to cut down on waste Tuesday, the state’s largest recycling center operator, RePlanet, announced it is shuttering all 284 of its locations.
California cities such as Watsonville and Berkeley approved fees for single-use cups earlier this year, following the model of the 10-cent statewide fee charged for carryout bags.
The rate of Santa Cruz County’s cup fee proposal has yet to be determined. Supervisors instructed staff to work with neighboring jurisdictions in an effort to arrive at a common charge. Watsonville is charging 10 cents per cup, while Berkeley is charging 25 cents.
Additional studying and public outreach is also planned around other problematic plastics, such as contact lenses and the plastic microfibers shed from synthetic fabric.
But supervisors stopped short of pursuing more aggressive options, such as moving forward with bans on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, helium balloons or filtered cigarettes across the unincorporated county.
Katherine O’Dea, executive director at nonprofit Save Our Shores, said the county’s actions represent “a really good step forward,” if not quite as big of a step as she and other environmentalists had hoped.
“I would have liked to see them go further on the plastic bottles, but maybe we’ll get that on the next round,” she said.
O’Dea and dozens of environmentalists rallied on the steps of the county Governmental Center on Tuesday morning prior to the meeting, where they chanted, waved signs and called on the local government to take decisive action.
Amiel Goodman, 10, carried a sign reading, “Do something drastic, cut the plastic.”
“Plastics that we use ends up in the ocean, and that kills sea life and destroys the environment,” Goodman said.
“The Monterey Bay means a lot to a lot of people, including me,” said Santa Cruz resident Sierra Garcia, 23. “Of course, plastic pollution is a global issue — the small particles are transported to even really remote parts of the Earth — but I think that here at home is a really good place to start.”
The Pacific garbage patch has doubled in size – it is now twice the size of Texas
Microplastics are now everywhere, from the North to South poles, the highest mountains, and plastic is even in the Marianas Trench.
And, even more frightening is that science is just beginning to research and understand the harm it does to wildlife and humans
91% of plastics aren’t recycled. It takes more than 400 years to degrade.
As you look into this problem, you’ll discover plastic hidden in so many things, like chewing gum, paints, books, carpeting…truly astonishing! Thank you for calling attention to this problem, too.
Just so you don’t feel like this problem is insurmountable, engineers and scientists are taking a 2 prong approach. They are trying to develop plastics that biodegrade completely in shorter time frames, and the other research is focused on developing plastics that are easy to recycle completely. 5/20/19
The Nestlé Customer Support Line is open everyday, at all hours.
Call 888-918-6672, and after a short message from Greenpeace, you will be patched to the Nestlé Customer Service line.
Hi, my name is NAME and I’m calling from CITY, STATE. I’m very concerned by the massive amount of single-use plastic pollution and Nestlé is one of the largest global corporations that relies heavily on such packaging. I would like Nestlé to be an industry leader and phase out single-use plastic packaging, while innovating bold, new solutions like refillable and reusable packaging. Thank you!
Copy and paste the post below, or write your own! Use #PointlessPlastic and tag @greenpeaceusa.
I just called Nestlé to ask them to stop the plastic pollution crisis they’ve helped create. Will you join me and make the call too? 888-918-6672
Here’s a script you can use: Hi, my name is NAME and I’m calling from CITY, STATE. I’m very concerned by the massive amount of single-use plastic pollution and Nestlé is one of the largest global corporations that relies heavily on such packaging. I would like Nestlé to be an industry leader and phase out single-use plastic packaging, while innovating bold, new solutions like refillable and reusable packaging. Thank you!
Grocery Store Project
Address the source – for most of us that is the grocery store. Here’s the link to the Greenpeace page to read more.
Basically on your smart phone you can connect to the survey and enter info for the specific store
text “Plastic” to 877877
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still participate! Take a look at the Greenpeace page before you go to the store and write down or print out the questions. Bring a camera with you, and when you get home, fill out the survey on your computer and upload your photos.
2. City and County Legislation
Berkeley already has a strong Ordinance adopted very recently. It’s quite long and includes 25c charge for throwaway cups and dishes. Berkeley Our city person Leslie O’Malley is very motivated to work on this kind of thing and we’ll be talking to her more.
Santa Cruz co. already passed a more limited action called “Plastic Pollution Mitigation” We’ll be contacting the county to find the staff author and communicate with them. CO.02-19