Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

California updates environmental curriculum over plastic bag chapter

A pile of plastic bags await recycling.
A pile of plastic bags await recycling.
evelynishere/Flickr CC

The current war being waged regarding single-use plastic bags goes beyond just how customers tote their wares out of restaurants and retail stores. It was discovered last year that the American Chemical Council had successfully lobbied California school officials to include positive messages about such plastic bags in the state’s environmental curriculum.

As reported by California Watch, the California Environmental Protection Agency has been allowed to rewrite the curriculum, which no longer includes a section entitled “The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags” and has been updated with current recycling statistics.

"Our concern always with the curriculum was to ensure integrity and accuracy," explained Bryan Ehlers, the California EPA’s assistant secretary for education and quality programs to California Watch. "We went back and looked at the whole unit and really picked through it with a fine-tooth comb."

An example of the changes included a statistic that said up to 12 percent of all single-use plastic bags are recycled. The revised text says that such numbers are all but unknown, with an estimate putting it closer to 3 percent.

Ehlers also added that during the revisions, care was taken not to insert any bias “in the opposite direction.”

You can judge for yourself, as the public has until next month (June 4, to be exact) to read the revisions on the California EPA website and submit comments on them. According to the website, all such submissions will be considered before final curriculum updates are posted.