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Nation’s most sweeping law to phase out single-use plastics approved by California lawmakers

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Dealing with a pernicious form of pollution, California lawmakers passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on single-use plastic and packaging on Thursday, with Governor Gavin Newsom expected to sign the bill Thursday.

The legislation leads to a vote in November that many lawmakers and the plastics industry hoped to avoid, and puts California at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate polystyrene and other plastics that pollute the environment, break down into toxic particles and increasingly human blood. inhabit, tissues and organs.

sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, has spent years trying to get state lawmakers to address the growing plastic pollution crisis, but faced opposition from the plastic industry and some food container manufacturers.

Late Wednesday night, the California Assembly passed bill 67-2, and the Senate passed it Thursday morning with 29 “yes” and no “nos.” Supporters applauded.

“With this legislation, California continues its tradition of global environmental leadership – tackling a big problem in a way that will move and grow markets, create incentives for investment, and give tools to other states and countries to play their part. to play in this fight,” Allen said in a statement.

For the past six months, a team of about two dozen negotiators have hammered away language to reduce plastic, increase recycling and shift the economic burden of waste disposal onto plastic producers and packers — all the while trying to find language that would satisfy those producers. as well as waste managers, packaging companies and environmentalists.

The bill requires that by January 1, 2028, at least 30% of plastic items sold, distributed or imported into the state be recyclable. By 2032, that number has increased to 65%. It also calls for a 25% reduction in single-use plastic waste by 2032 and empowers CalRecycle to increase that percentage as the amount of plastic in the economy and waste stream grows.

In the case of expanded polystyrene, that number should be 25% by 2025. If that number is not met, the ubiquitous, difficult-to-recycle foam plastic will be banned.

“It’s a de facto ban,” said Jay Ziegler of the Nature Conservancy, pointing out that current polystyrene recycling rates are in the low single digits, making it unlikely that a 25% recycling target can be met in three years.

Plastic waste has become an increasing scourge across the country as plastic packaging has become ubiquitous in grocery stores, fast food restaurants and other businesses, and consumers – especially during the pandemic – have opted for takeaway items that come in single-use packaging. The resulting waste pollutes the marine environment and clogs landfills, in part due to challenges in plastics recycling, including China’s decision to end imports of plastic waste several years ago.

The bill is based on a policy concept known as Extended Producer Responsibility, which shifts responsibility for waste from consumers, cities to polluters. It will also give plastics companies comprehensive oversight and authority over program management, implementation and reporting, through a Producer Responsibility Organization, which will be made up of industry representatives.

In addition to various duties, the group will be responsible for collecting fees from participating organizations to pay for the program, as well as an annual fee of $500 million each year that will be spent on the Plastic Pollution Reduction Fund.

CalRecycle has ultimate authority over the program.

Negotiators, including Heidi Sanborn, director of the California Stewardship Council, said past mistakes in extended producer responsibility laws affected how this legislation was written, helping the authors identify areas that could be abused or ignored.

In 2010, the state enacted a similar Producer Responsibility Act that mandates the recycling of carpet. Overseen by the industry, the target was 24% recycling by 2020. Recycling rates dropped after the program was established. CalRecycle sued the group for $3.3 million in 2017 for failing to meet its target, and they settled for $1.175 million in 2021.

In another case involving the California Paint Care Program, the manufacturers eventually sued the state and used the program’s funding to cover their litigation costs.

The language in this new plastic bill contains clear dates and consequences for failure, including a $50,000 per day fine for a company or “entity” that does not comply with the law, as well as guidance on how collected fees can and cannot be used.

“We have learned from past mistakes,” Sanborn said. “This legislation is solid.”

Not everyone is happy.

A front group for the plastics industry, the Environmental Solutions Coalition, has sent out mailings to households.

The American Chemistry Council’s vice president of plastics, Joshua Baca, released a statement Wednesday saying that although his organization had worked with Allen and the negotiators for months, the final draft “is not the optimal legislation to push California toward a circular economy.” drive the economy.”

He said the definition of recycling in the law “needs to be improved and clarified so that new, innovative technologies that keep hard-to-recycle plastic out of the environment and landfills count towards meeting the circular targets in the legislation.”

The chemical trade group – which includes the world’s largest plastic, fossil fuel and chemical companies – is currently urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to include the conversion of plastic into energy and fuel, via pyrolysis and gasification, as recycling method.

The bill explicitly states that those forms of plastic conversion – which are polluting – will not be regarded as ‘recycling’.

“The bill, with my committee’s amendments, prohibits chemical recycling and includes recognition of protections for underserved and low-income communities,” said D-North Hollywood Assembly Member Luz Rivas. “I wouldn’t let the bill get off my committee if I felt a chemical recycling plant could be built in my community.”


‘Chemical recycling’ of plastic criticized by environmental group


2022 Los Angeles Times.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Quote: Nation’s most sweeping bill to phase out single-use plastics passed by California lawmakers (2022, June 30) retrieved June 30, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-nation-law-phase- single-use -plastics.html

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