A bill to phase out single-use plastics by 2030 passed Wednesday in the state senate and its companion bill passed Thursday in the state assembly.
Sen. Ben Allen, who represents the Westside, Hollywood and the South Bay in the California State Senate, introduced legislation in February requiring all single-use packaging and products to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030. Senate Bill 54 would also require California to recycle or divert 75 percent of single-use materials. The state currently recycles just 15 percent of single-use plastics.
“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,” Allen said. “This legislation provides a comprehensive plan to transition manufacturers and consumers toward more sustainable packaging and products.”
Assm. Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced SB 50’s companion bill, Assembly Bill 1080. Both are called the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. They follow two statewide measures aimed out phasing out plastics: last year’s law requiring businesses to only provide plastic straws on request and a 2014 ban on single-use plastic bags. Both laws were the first of their kind nationwide.
Allen also passed a law last September that requires state facilities to serve food in reusable, recyclable or compostable containers.
“The dire impacts of single-use plastic on our oceans, marine life, the broader environment and human health are too powerful to ignore,” Allen said. “And local cities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on waste management and cleanup that should be spent on other essential services.”
Santa Monica has already banned disposable food packaging, prohibiting plastic utensils, plates and containers, among other plastic, bio-plastic and aluminum packaging. Businesses must serve food in containers made marine-degradable paper, fiber or wood, although they can use plastic cups and cup lids until 2020 because marine-degradable versions are not yet available.
The ban went into effect Jan. 1 and is meant to protect Santa Monica Bay from plastic pollution and reduce landfilled waste in accordance with the City’s goal to achieve zero waste by 2030.
The California Grocers Association (CGA), a non-profit, statewide trade association that represents over 300 retail members in California and Nevada and 150 grocery supplier companies, opposed Santa Monica’s disposable food packaging ban, contending that usable marine degradable packaging did not yet exist. But CGA’s government affairs director, Aaron Moreno, said the association has been working with Allen to craft SB 54.
Moreno said Allen’s staff has been responsive to the association’s concerns about the differing needs of grocers and restaurants. While restaurants can more readily use biodegradable packaging, grocers need packaging that preserves food safety and shelf life for a much longer period of time, he said.
“We’re looking forward to continuing working with the authors on this measure,” Moreno said. “They get why we need what we need. We’re not trying to get out of anything.”
SB 54 and AB 1080 will now proceed to the opposite house for consideration.