A bill to phase out plastic packaging has passed several committees and is expected to go to the full California State Assembly for a vote by Friday. (Oceana)

The California State Assembly is expected to vote this week on a bill that would phase out some of the plastics used in online shipping because they clog up landfills and harm marine life.

Assembly Bill 2026 would force companies mailing packages to and from California to find more sustainable packaging and phase out plastic mailers, bubble wrap, air pillows, molded polystyrene and loose fill such as packaging peanuts.

Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Pacific policy and communications manager for the nonprofit conservation group Oceana, said most of these items never get recycled.

“The majority of that is landfilled and makes its way into the environment where it harms marine life,” she said, “and it also interferes with the ability to recycle, as it contaminates recycling, it gums up the machines.”

Friday is the deadline to pass any and all bills out of the Assembly. Opponents have said manufacturers would have to spend money to switch over to new packaging types, which could result in higher prices for consumers. Supporters have noted that Amazon already has moved to eliminate plastic packaging in India and has announced plans to do so in Germany.

Blacow-Draeger said a huge amount of plastic ends up in the ocean, where it can lead marine life to suffocate or starve.

“They can choke on the plastic pieces when ingested, or it can create a false sense of feeling full,” she said. “And so, they feel like they’ve been eating their natural food in the ocean – but in fact, their stomachs are being filled with plastic pieces.”

The bill would make exceptions for plastics used in shipping certain medicines, medical devices and some types of food.

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