Single-use packaging is a primary source of urban litter and oceanic litter pollution, according to storm drain and beach cleanup studies. Polystyrene, plastic bags and other non-recyclable packaging have a high propensity to be littered because they are light and aerodynamic and are consumed away from home. Up to 80% of ocean pollution is litter from urban runoff, and non-recyclable single-use food packaging is a primary component of urban litter. Single-use food packaging litter kills wildlife such as birds and endangered sea turtles that become entangled or mistake it for food. More than 1 million sea birds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die from ingesting or becoming entangled in marine debris.
AB 2138 would prohibit food providers from distributing single-use food packaging and bags unless they are accepted for either recycling or composting in at least 75% of households in a jurisdiction and are recovered at rate of at least 25%.