California is hoping to legislate single-use plastics with the continued discussion on a bill to remove them. The bill has two main goals. The first is to reduce single-use packaging and products to the “maximum extent feasible.” The second, a mandate that all single-use packaging manufactured and sold in California after January 1, 2030 must be recyclable or compostable. On September 10, the bill returned to the senate floor for consideration. Plastic’s harm to land, animals, and people has been widely reported.
The bill also states that by 2030, regulations would maintain a 75% reduction of generated single-use plastic by composting, recycling or reduction. In the bill text, lawmakers outline the disposal and production of plastic, reporting global production at 335 million tons and the disposal of 30 million tons in the United States. Much of the disposed plastic ends up in oceans, a significant fact to a state with the Pacific Ocean as its western boundary.
California taking a stand on plastics will have a significant effect on the United States, from a population perspective and in establishing it as a model for other states. One out of every eight people in the United States lives in California. The bill calls California the 5th largest economy in the world.
As plastic production increases, it becomes harder to dispose of and recycle. In a hearing on September 10, bill author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego) made comments including, “While the state and local communities in California have tried to reduce the burden from single-use packaging since the 1980s, taxpayers and local governments still spend over $420 million annually in ongoing efforts to clean up and prevent litter in streets, storm drains, parks and waterways. Not only is cleanup expensive, but it cannot keep pace with the production of single-use disposable items, which continues to grow exponentially.”
The state has long been a leader in environmental action, including early plastic legislation. In September, 2018, the governor signed a bill banning single-use straws in restaurants, following its 2014 bill banning single-use plastic bags. California was the first state to ban single-use plastic bags.
Read more on our coverage of plastic in oceans, and check out the article, “Is it Really Worth the Convenience? 6 Ways Plastic is Harming Animals, the Planet and Us.”
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