Newsom Signs Pivotal Plastic Bill in California Law

California State. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law Thursday a landmark bill that would dramatically reduce single-use plastic packaging and utensils in the state over the next decade.

The law – called SB-54 – requires a 25 percent reduction in single-use plastic packaging and food utensil accessories by weight and “plastic ingredient source” by 2032, according to the text of the law.

The source of the plastic component refers to any single piece of material covered with plastic, as specified on the invoice. Out of 100 juice boxes, for example, 25 plastic straws should be discarded.

“Our children deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous effects, everything from clogging up our oceans to killing animals – polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. No more,” Newsom said in a statement.

“California will not tolerate the plastic waste that fills our waterways and makes breathing more difficult,” the governor continued. “We hold polluters responsible and cut plastic at the source.”

The author of Bill Munn stated. Bill Allen (D) also linked his passage.

“For far too long, plastic waste has been an increasing burden on humans, animals, water, soil and air that we need to exist,” Allen said in a statement.

“In this time of extreme polarization in our country, California has been able to show that we can pass strong environmental legislation with bipartisan support that has brought the environmental and business communities together,” he added.

Environmentalists applauded progress in the legislation, which passed in the state assembly Wednesday night by a vote of 67 to 2 — with 11 not scored — and by 29-0 in the Senate Thursday morning.

“It’s hard to tell how important that sentiment is,” Anya Brandon, US plastics policy analyst at the Ocean Conservancy and a lead contributor to the law’s text, said in a statement.

“The United States is the number one generator of plastic waste in the world and a major contributor to the ocean plastic crisis,” she said. We cannot solve this problem without the leadership of the United States, and by passing this law, California is making things right. This is a great victory for our surroundings.”

To accomplish the 25 percent reduction, the bill requires that at least 10 percent of single-use plastic packaging and utensils either be completely plastic-free or switch from single-use systems to reuse and refill. In total, at least 4 percent of these plastics must pass into these systems.

This combination of eliminating plastic and switching to reuse and refilling could directly remove 23 million tons of single-use plastics over the next 10 years — about 26 times the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

Residual source reduction of 15 percent can occur by switching to bulk or bulk packaging or switching to an alternative non-plastic material, the bill explains. However, the law states that no more than 8 percent of these products can be reduced by using post-consumer recycled plastics.

All single-use food and packaging materials, including non-plastic items, must be recyclable or compostable by 2032, according to the law. By the same year, all plastic-covered items offered for sale, distribution, or import into the state should achieve a 65 percent recycling rate, the text reads.

In response to the legislation’s progress, Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at the American Chemistry Council, stressed that while “the law isn’t perfect,” it’s a “better outcome” than an “anti-plastic” ballot that was withdrawn on Thursday evening.

Reed was referring to California’s Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which would have required a 25 percent cut by 2030, among other stricter rules.

That ballot measure faced stiff opposition from business, eventually leading to negotiations among industry, environmental groups and politicians over the more moderate SB-54 bill that Newsom signed into law Thursday, according to CalMatters.

Ballot initiatives in California must be removed 130 days before the November 11 date. 8 elections – which means the petitioners needed to do so by the end of June, according to California law.

The three petitioners withdrew the ballot measure Thursday night, after declaring late Wednesday that they would do so if Newsom signed SB-54 into law, CalMatters reported.

Had the ballot initiative gone ahead, the policy could have cost Californians an estimated $9 billion annually, but only invested about 30 percent of that in improving recycling, Baca said.

“We will now focus on working with lawmakers, regulators and other stakeholders to help ensure implementation of SB 54 matches its goal: to eliminate plastic waste and improve the circularity of plastic, while reducing costs to Californians,” Baca said.

While the Ocean Conservancy originally supported both the ballot initiative and the bill, a statement from the organization said the group now favors withdrawing the initiative.

“Our number one priority has always been to reduce plastic on shelves and reduce plastic pollution in our surroundings, and both SB54 and polling measure have been viable pathways,” said Nicholas Mallos, Senior Director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program.

“Historically, ballot initiatives face an uphill battle for implementation even after they are passed, meaning it could take years before any of their provisions come into effect,” Mallos added. “SB54 is not only powerful or more powerful than polling in many ways; but we look forward to taking assured action on this serious problem immediately.”

Updated at 9:24 PM

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