For immediate release: Monday February 28th, 2022
Nicolas Riani, Campus Organizer, CALPIRG Students
[email protected], (510) 501-6556
Sacramento – On Monday, 75 students from across California converged (virtually) on the state capitol to call for action to fight plastic pollution. Student volunteers with CALPIRG Students, a student-run nonprofit with chapters at the UC campuses and USC, met with 60 elected officials to ask them to support Assembly Bill 2026, authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), which would phase out unnecessary single-use plastic packaging in online retail. The students kicked off the day with a rally to share why they care about the issue.
“Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, so every piece we produce will stay on our planet for hundreds of years and a third will make its way into our rivers and oceans. If we continue producing plastic at this rate, it is estimated that there will be more plastic waste than fish in the ocean by 2050. In order to stop this future, we need to take major action now,” said 4th year UCSD student and CALPIRG Chapter Chair Ria Coen Gilbert.
The bill comes as online shopping has increased in recent years. The increase has been accelerated by the pandemic, but was already underway before the pandemic began. Plastic packaging from e-commerce is projected to double by 2026.
“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.”
This effort is the culmination of a campaign waged by students since the beginning of the year. In just two months, student organizers have collected over 10,000 petitions from their peers, and educated over 24,000 students in their classes about plastic pollution. On Valentine’s Day they held “Break up with Plastics” events across the state to celebrate the introduction of AB 2026 and joined a rally at the state capitol with signs titled, “Love our Oceans” and “Kiss Plastics Goodbye” to show their support.
Students’ efforts also come in the wake of recent success. In 2020, students organized to convince the UC system to phase out single-use plastic items in food service by 2023. But students say taking action at the state level is needed.
“When I talk to students on campus about this campaign, many of them tell me how much they love our beaches,” says Ria. “We all want a cleaner future where we can enjoy our beaches and oceans without plastic debris.”
CALPIRG Students provided the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. For more information, visit www.calpirgstudents.org