Ordinance would establish regulations related to single-use disposable foodware items and plastic bottle restrictions.

January 20, 2020 – On January 21, 2020, the Arcata City Council will be discussing adoption of an ordinance that would regulate the sale of plastic bottles and single-use containers in the City. The Northcoast Environmental Center supports restrictions on plastic bottles and single use containers. During our 2019 Coastal Cleanup Day, our volunteers picked up over 356 plastic bottles and over 2,900 plastic particles from our beaches. We support the City of Arcata’s movement towards addressing the severe plastic problem that is plaguing our world.

Single-use packaging and products in California generate tons of non-recyclable and non-compostable waste that impacts our health and ecosystems.

Plastic pollution is petroleum based and starts with fossil fuel extraction to create these plastics and it impacts all individuals, communities, and ecosystems along their supply chain. This starts when the products are manufactured, then spreads when they are transported, and used. To make matters worse when they degrade, they emit greenhouse gases and have a long term negative impact on the environment as litter and as they break down as micro plastics.

The oil refineries and plastic manufacturers, with their incinerators and smoke stacks are commonly located in or near disadvantaged communities. These communities then must bear the brunt of all the associated health impacts from this very dirty industry. Among these impacts is much higher asthma rates. So with a planned 40-percent increase in plastic production over the next decade, this will account for 20 percent of global fossil fuel consumption unless we make major policy changes to significantly reduce this.

One important way to reduce the production of plastics is to focus on its use in packaging. Plastic packaging is typically designed to be used just once and then discarded. This accounts for 42 percent of all non-fiber plastic produced. Unlike natural materials that decompose, nearly every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in our landfills or in our ecosystems. As these items fragment into smaller particles, known as micro plastics, they bio accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals that contaminate our food and drinking water sources, ranging from bottled water to table salt to fish and agricultural soils. Exposure to these plastics and associated toxicants have been linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other serious health problems.

Since China is no longer accepting plastic waste, California must reduce the amount of plastics as a result of this reality. We can no longer afford to wait on this issue. The only solution is eliminating non-reusable, non-recyclable and non-compostable products and reducing this type of packaging. This is by far the most effective and least expensive way to protect the health of people, wildlife, and the environment of California. The first steps we can make in Arcata is to pass regulations.

 Again, the Northcoast Environmental Center supports proposed City of Arcata plastic ban ordinance.


The Northcoast Environmental Center has engaged in conservation and environmental protection in northwestern California for over 45 years. Our mission includes educating agencies and the public about environmental concerns that may have an effect on our local resources and citizens.