Quantcast

California Fails to Pass Bills That Would Have Led Nation in Fighting Plastic Waste

Politics
Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.


Assembly Bill (AB) 1080 and Senate Bill (SB) 54 would have required plastic producers to cut pollution 75 percent by 2030 through a combination of recycling, composting and reducing packaging. In addition, they would have mandated that all single-use plastic products sold in California by 2030 be either recyclable or compostable. While other states have banned individual plastic items like straws or bags, these bills would have been the nation's first to target single-use packaging and dining ware at the source, conservation group Oceana explained in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. But the ambitious bills only cleared one chamber each, not the two required to pass.

"It's time for policymakers and companies to take bold steps to curb the production of unnecessary single-use plastic and ensure consumers are provided with plastic-free choices. California had the opportunity to be a national leader in protecting the planet and its inhabitants from the plastic increasingly entering our oceans, soil, air, food and bodies," Oceana plastics campaign director Christy Leavitt said in the press release.

The bills' passage was stymied by opposition from industry lobbyists, The Los Angeles Times explained. Opponents included the Grocery Manufacturers Association, waste management companies and some agricultural and glass manufacturing industry players. They worried, among other concerns, that the bills would grant too much power to CalRecycle, the agency that would have enforced them, and said they were not specific enough.

"We remain opposed because we think there are some fundamental flaws in the bill which would prevent it from being implemented," Executive Director of State Government Affairs for the Plastics Industry Association Shannon Crawford told The Los Angeles Times.

However, the bills' proponents did manage to negotiate changes that won over the California Grocers Association and Dow Chemical, and persuaded the American Chemistry Council, Proctor & Gamble and Walmart to cease their opposition.

The bills were written in response to China's decision to stop accepting recycling imports from the U.S. and other countries. This has led some states and municipalities to put more waste in landfills. One of California's biggest recycling companies, rePlanet, closed 284 collection centers in August, according to The Mercury News.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), who wrote SB 54, had hoped it would help drive a global solution to the plastic crisis. Around 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enter the ocean every year, according to Oceana, and the bills estimated that the U.S. discards 30 million tons of plastic a year.

"We want to show that we can build a model that we can truly scale around the rest of the world," Allen told The Los Angeles Times. "We also need to show the rest of the world that they can and ought to be doing something about this."

However, the legislators will have another chance to pass the bills in the 2020 session.

"We weren't able to get the votes necessary this late hour," Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) wrote in a tweet reported by The Mercury News. "But rest assured, we will be back in January."

The California legislature did pass one other plastics bill: AB 792 will mandate that beverage containers sold in the state be made from 50 percent recycled plastics by 2030.

"This is the most aggressive recycled-content mandate not only in the United States, but in the world," Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) told The Mercury News.

It now awaits a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
belchonock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Coconut oil is an incredibly healthy fat.

Read More Show Less
Wesley Martinez Da Costa / EyeEm / Getty Images

By David R. Montgomery

Would it sound too good to be true if I was to say that there was a simple, profitable and underused agricultural method to help feed everybody, cool the planet, and revitalize rural America? I used to think so, until I started visiting farmers who are restoring fertility to their land, stashing a lot of carbon in their soil, and returning healthy profitability to family farms. Now I've come to see how restoring soil health would prove as good for farmers and rural economies as it would for the environment.

Read More Show Less
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less