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California bill would reduce single-use plastic products by 25%

SACRAMENTO, California. – An ambitious California proposal aims to reduce plastic production for single-use products like shampoo bottles and food packaging by 25% starting in the next decade in a bid to curb pollution from the ubiquitous material.

A bill introduced late Thursday aims to bring environmental and business groups together to avoid a similar ballot measure to be presented to voters in November. But at least two of the three supporters of the ballot measure are not on board yet.

Democratic Senator Ben Allen, the author of the bill, said that if passed, the proposal would make California a leader in reducing plastic waste by focusing on eliminating plastic at the source, not just to recycling once it has been produced.

“The truth is we just need less crap out there — less plastic in general,” Allen said Friday.

Plastics have long been a target of environmental groups. Most plastic is not recycled and millions of tons pollute the world’s oceans, harm wildlife and end up in drinking water. Various efforts are being made to curb this pollution, with states trying to reduce the use of plastic bags, straws and other products. This month, the federal government announced it would phase out sales of single-use plastics like water bottles national parks.

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According to the bill, the 25 percent reduction in plastic from single-use products would begin in 2032. It would apply to manufacturers of products like laundry detergent, toothpaste and food packaging, as well as companies like Amazon that package products for shipping. They would have to replace the plastic with other materials, reduce their packaging or market the products as reusable and make it easy for consumers to do so. It would not apply to water or other beverage bottles, which are regulated by different recycling laws.

Apart from plastic, manufacturers of all single-use products, even those made of paper or glass, would have to ensure that 65% are recycled by 2032. It is estimated that less than 10% of plastic in the United States is currently recycled.

Manufacturers of single-use products would have to join “producer responsibility organizations” that would implement the rules under government oversight. The organizations would have to raise $500 million annually for a government fund to reduce plastic pollution. Manufacturers who don’t follow the rules could be fined $50,000 a day.

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The legislation was the result of long negotiations between Allen’s office, environmental and business groups. Allen said he doesn’t expect the plastics industry to support the law. But he hopes they won’t oppose it because it may be more acceptable than the electoral measure and would mean they don’t have to spend money to prevent it.

“While this law leaves both large and small California businesses with a maze of environmental regulations, we believe this proposal provides long-term political certainty around recycling and packaging,” Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Yet there was no immediate commitment from supporters of the ballot measure to withdraw it. Voting measures can be overturned until June 30, meaning the bill would need to be passed quickly.

“We will take the initiative if/when the law that the governor is signing deserves the sacrifice. Not a day earlier. We’re far from there,” said Linda Escalante of the Natural Resources Defense Council and a supporter of the measure, in a statement.

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Caryl Hart, vice chair of the California Coastal Commission, and Michael Sangiacomo, former president of waste management company Recology, are the other two supporters of the ballot measure. Sangiacomo said in a statement that the legislature is not doing enough for him to support the pulling of the ballot measure. He didn’t elaborate.

The voting measure requires a 25% cut in plastics production, but it starts two years early. It would ban the use of Styrofoam and similar products by grocery vendors. Legislation wouldn’t do that; Instead, 20% of these products would have to be recycled. Anja Brandon, US Plastics Policy Analyst at the Ocean Conservancy, said this amounts to a “de facto ban” because the material cannot be recycled.

The voting measure gives the California Department of Resource Recycling and Reclamation more regulatory power and imposes a 1-cent fee on all single-use plastic products. Proponents of the measure say the legislation gives the industry too much power to regulate itself.

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The Ocean Conservancy is one of the environmental groups supporting the law. Brandon called it the strongest plastics legislation in the country. Her organization estimated that the bill would reduce plastic in the state by 23 million tons over 10 years.

“Walk down a grocery store, everything you see (that’s plastic) is going to be affected,” she said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/business/2022/06/17/california-bill-would-reduce-single-use-plastic-products-25/ California bill would reduce single-use plastic products by 25%

Sarah Y. Kim

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