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Proposed California Bill Might Be Most Ambitious Anti-Plastic Legislation Yet

by Rudy Sanchez on 03/06/2020 | 2 Minute Read

As awareness of single-use plastic’s impact to the alarming amount of trash in the world’s oceans and waterways, individuals, companies, and governments are looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic used, and the state of California is poised to pass one of the most aggressive laws addressing the plastic crisis to date.

Bills in the Bear Republic’s legislative chambers, SB54 in the Senate and AB1080 in the Assembly, known as The California Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act, failed to gather enough votes last year and were reintroduced in January. A group of environmental advocacy groups that support the bill also filed a similar ballot measure for the November 2020 election. 

If enacted, the new laws would mandate that the state reduce the waste generated from single-use packaging and foodware by 75% through avoidance, recycling, and composting. Unlike previous efforts, it will not be enough to make products that are recyclable or compostable alone, as the flow of such packaging and utensils into the Golden State will get regulated by the 75% target reduction.

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The bill, opposed by manufacturers and other business trade groups, applies to all single-use packaging, including paper, glass, metal, and plastic, and would effectively ban non-recyclable packaging and serveware (such as mixed material packaging like paper cups lined with plastic) by 2030. Some plastics like polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polypropylene are more difficult to recycle in California as there are fewer facilities that process the materials, and could get severely impacted if the proposed laws go into effect.

“We have to stop treating our oceans and planet like a dumpster,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, co-author of AB 1080, said in a press release last year when the bill was first introduced. “Any fifth-grader can tell you that our addiction to single-use plastics is killing our ecosystems. We have technology and innovation to improve how we reduce and recycle the plastic packaging and products in our state. Now, we have to find the political will to do so.”