by Kathleen Roane | The Associated Press
Sacramento — An ambitious California proposal aims to reduce plastic production for single-use products such as shampoo bottles and food wrappers by 25% over the next decade, as part of an effort to rein in pollution from the ubiquitous material.
A bill introduced late Thursday aims to bring environmental and business groups together to avoid a similar ballot measure to go before voters in November. But at least two of the three supporters of the ballot are not yet on board.
Democratic Sen. Ben Allen, the bill’s author, said that if the proposal is passed, California would become a leader in reducing plastic waste by focusing on eliminating plastic waste at the source, not just recycling it once it’s produced. .
“The truth is we need less crap out there — less plastic in there in general,” Allen said Friday.
Plastics have long been a target of environmental groups. Most plastics are not recycled and millions of tons are polluting the world’s oceans, harming wildlife and showing up in drinking water. Several efforts are underway to curb such pollution, with states trying to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags, straws and other products. This month the federal government said it would end the sale of single-use plastics such as water bottles in national parks.
Under the bill, a 25% reduction in plastics from single-use products will begin in 2032. This would apply to producers of products such as laundry detergent, toothpaste and food wrapping, as well as companies such as Amazon that package products to be mailed. They must replace plastics with other materials, reduce their packaging or market the products as reusable and make it easier for consumers to do so. This will not apply to water or other beverage bottles, which are governed by various recycling laws.
Beyond plastics, producers of all single-use products, even those made of paper or glass, will need to ensure that 65% is recycled by 2032. It is estimated that less than 10% of plastics in the United States are now recycled.
Manufacturers of single-use products would have to join “manufacturer responsibility organizations” that would enforce regulations with state oversight. Organizations must deposit $500 million annually to the State Plastic Pollution Mitigation Fund. Manufacturers who do not comply with the rules can be fined up to $50,000 per day.
The law was the product of long conversations between Allen’s office, environmental and business groups. Allen said he does not expect the plastics industry to support the bill. But they hope they won’t lobby against it because it may be more acceptable than the ballot measure and will mean they don’t have to spend money to defeat it.
Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said, “While California businesses both large and small face a maze of environmental regulations as a result of this bill, we believe this proposal will ensure long-term policy certainty around recycling and packaging.” does.” a statement.
Nevertheless, there was no immediate commitment on the part of supporters of the ballot to withdraw it. Ballots can be removed by June 30, meaning the bill will need to be passed quickly. “We will take the initiative if/when the bill that the governor signs is worthy of sacrifice. Not a day ago. We are nowhere close to that,” Linda Escalante of the Natural Resources Defense Council and a proponent of the measure said in a statement.
Carol Hart, vice chairman of the California Coastal Commission, and Michael Sangiacomo, former chairman of the waste management company Recology, are the other two supporters of the ballot. Sangiacomo said in a statement that the law was not sufficient for him to support the ballot measure. He did not elaborate further.
The ballot measure requires a 25% cut in plastic production, but is starting two years ago. It will ban the use of Styrofoam and similar products by food vendors. The legislation will not do so; Instead 20% of such products would need to be recycled. Anja Brandon, US plastics policy analyst at the Ocean Conservancy, said this is a “real ban” because the material cannot be recycled.
The ballot measure puts more regulatory power in the hands of California’s Department of Resource Recycling and Recovery and imposes a 1 percent duty on all single-use plastic products. Proponents of the measure say the law gives the industry too much power to regulate itself.
Ocean Conservation is one of the environmental groups supporting the bill. Brandon called it the strongest plastic law in the country. His organization estimated that the bill would reduce plastic by 23 million tonnes in the state over 10 years.
“Walk down a grocery aisle, everything you see (that’s plastic) is going to be affected by it,” she said.