Canadian Plastics

California plastic recycling bill fails for second year in a row

For the second straight year, the California state Legislature has rejected a bill that would have required a 75 per cent recycling or composting rate in that U.S. state.

September 2, 2020   Canadian Plastics

For the second straight year, California state Legislature rejected a bill that would have required a 75 per cent recycling or composting rate in that U.S. state.

The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Act – also known as California Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 – was passed by the California state Senate on Aug. 30, but fell four votes short of the number needed to pass in the state Assembly in a vote held on Aug. 31. The final vote tally was 37-18, with 41 votes being required to pass the bill in the 80-member chamber. Several members sat out the vote.

The measure would have set a state goal of a 75 per cent reduction in waste from single-use plastic packaging and products by 2032. It also would have put in place a subsequent requirement that single-use plastic utensils be recyclable or compostable.

The bill also failed to pass in a vote last year.

Several U.S. industry associations that were against the bill expressed their approval at the outcome of the vote. “We are certainly appreciative of all the legislators who recognized that Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 were flawed and would impose significant burdens on businesses and their customers,” Plastics Industry Association president and CEO Tony Radoszewski said in a statement. “We now have a chance to hit the reset button and work with all interested stakeholders to craft legislation that will really address the issue of sustainability. The plastics industry stands ready to work with legislators to get something done in the coming months so by next year, there is a workable bill in front of lawmakers in California.”

And the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), which represents major packaged foods makers, said it was glad lawmakers rejected the bill, saying that the state should focus on “practical, scalable solutions” like the U.S. Plastics Pact, which launched in late August. “For the second time, Californians demonstrated that they don’t want a band-aid approach to fixing the state’s recycling system, but rather real, lasting change,” said Meghan Stasz, vice president of packaging and sustainability with CBA.

Activists, on the other hand, again lamented failure of the measure. “With marine plastic pollution projected to triple by 2040, the need for comprehensive single-use plastic regulation has never been more urgent,” said Christy Leavit, plastics campaign director for Oceana, a non-profit advocacy group that pushes for cleaner oceans. “California lawmakers delivered disappointment instead of plastics reform, but this missed opportunity won’t dampen the movement.”

Less than 15 per cent of California’s single-use plastic is recycled, according to the bill’s authors.


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