Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less
Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A pipeline being constructed in Pennsylvania. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday mandating federal agencies bypass key environmental reviews of energy and infrastructure projects.
Read More Show Less