Press Release

California Plastic Pollution Initiative Qualifies for Statewide Ballot

Initiative Campaign Supported by Two Earth Island Institute Projects

Berkeley, CA (September 1, 2020) — The Plastics Free California initiative is heading to the November 2022 ballot after qualifying with 870,000 voters signatures — significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required. Two of Earth Island Institute’s projects, California Climate and Agriculture Network and Plastic Pollution Coalition, supported the initiative campaign.

Should the initiative pass, it will reduce plastic pollution, restore and protect environments harmed by plastic pollution, and increase recycling. It will achieve this by funding environmental restoration and protection of streams, rivers, beaches, and oceans harmed by plastic trash pollution; reducing the amount of plastic pollution in California by ensuring that all single-use plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2030; reducing the amount of single-use plastic sold in California by 25 percent by 2030; instituting a statewide ban on non-recyclable plastic Styrofoam food containers; funding new recycling plants that will turn single-use trash into new products; protecting drinking water, reducing runoff from pesticides, and funding new composting facilities; and charging corporate plastic manufacturers a penny tax on its single-use plastic packages to fund plastic recycling and environmental clean-up of plastic pollution.

“We have an opportunity with this initiative to support a clean environment for all of California, including our rural communities, by moving away from harmful plastics and towards sustainable solutions like compost production and healthy soils practices,” said Jeanne Merrill, policy director at California Climate and Agriculture Network. The penny tax on the single-use plastic packages would fund the healthy soils program.

“Garnering so many signatures even during the Covid lockdown shows how much the public wants this. It shows that California residents want to take responsibility for our roles in the plastic pollution crisis and enact real solutions to solve it, using just and equitable source reduction and waste reduction efforts. We are showing that we are ready to lead the way to clean up California with the Plastics Free California initiative,” said Jackie Nunez, founder of the Last Plastic Straw and advocacy program manager for Plastic Pollution Coalition.

In February, Earth Island Institute filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against 10 major food, beverage, and consumer goods companies for the nuisance created by their plastic packaging, including polluting California waterways with plastic trash and touting products as recyclable when they’re not. The ongoing lawsuit was also filed on behalf of four of Earth Island’s projects that work on plastic pollution issues, including Plastic Pollution Coalition, International Marine Mammal Project, Sharks Stewards, and 1000 Fountains.

More information about the initiative is available at