SACRAMENTO — The California State Senate passed legislation authored by Senator Ben Allen (D - Santa Monica) Wednesday that will set a course to significantly reduce the volume of single-use packaging sold in California, and the top 10 single-use plastic littered items. It passed on a bipartisan vote of 28 – 8. Companion legislation (AB 1080) introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) passed the state Assembly today. The measures are jointly authored by Senators Nancy Skinner, Henry Stern, and Scott Wiener (SB 54), and Assemblymembers Ian Calderon, Laura Friedman and Phil Ting (AB 1080).
"We have a waste and pollution crisis on our hands and the bottom has fallen out of our recycling market in the wake of China’s decision to no longer take our waste,” said Senator Allen. “This legislation provides a comprehensive plan to transition manufacturers and consumers toward more sustainable packaging and products. The dire impacts of single-use plastic on our oceans, marine life, the broader environment and human health are too powerful to ignore. And local cities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on waste management and cleanup that should be spent on other essential services. I thank my colleagues for recognizing the need to address the plastics crisis by passing SB 54 today." Allen is chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, and co-chair of the legislature’s Environmental Caucus.
The legislation will establish a comprehensive framework to address the pollution and waste crisis, and sets a statewide goal that manufacturers reduce the waste generated by single-use packaging and products by 75% after 2030. The bills requires Cal Recycle to conduct a stakeholder process to develop regulations that 1) require manufacturers and retailers to design their packaging to reduce unnecessary waste and improve recyclability or compostability of the packaging, and require all single-use packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable after 2030; 2) identify the top ten most littered single-use plastic products and require these to be manufactured with only recyclable or compostable material; 3) develop incentives and policies to encourage in-state manufacturing using recycled material generated in California.
“Solving the plastics problem in our oceans will take a concerted effort by the companies that are producing and selling these materials,” said Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist at Oceana, a leading proponent of SB 54. “This legislation will create the framework desperately needed to turn the tide on our single-use plastics problem. We applaud these state leaders and urge that these bills remain strong in their commitment to meaningfully and drastically reduce the impacts of single-use products. As the fifth-largest economy in world, California has the opportunity to remain an environmental leader on responsible plastics policy and inspire national and international change.”
“Our local communities are now overwhelmed by the cost of single-use plastic waste,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said. “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.”
Plastic pollution has grown into a major global crisis for the oceans, with an estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic entering the marine environment from land-based sources every year. Taxpayers and local governments spend more than $420 million annually to clean up and prevent litter in streets, storm drains, parks and waterways, but these efforts cannot keep pace with the production of single-use disposable items.
SB 54 is supported by more than 100 cities, environmental organizations and solid waste industry companies. It now goes to the state Assembly for consideration.
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California State Senator Ben Allen represents the 26th Senate District, which consists of the Westside, Hollywood and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County.
Follow Senator Allen on Twitter: @BenAllenCA; Facebook: www.facebook.com/BenAllenCalifornia; and Instagram: @BenAllenCA.