In November, Californians may get a chance to shrink single-use plastic waste. An initiative designed to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene food containers will be on the ballot, a move by environmentalists to bypass the Legislature, where such measures have repeatedly failed in the face of industry lobbying. “Honestly, the thinking driving this ballot measure is to get the attention of industry in a way that we haven’t been able to get in the Legislature,” said Jay Ziegler, director of policy and external affairs for the Nature Conservancy in California, a proponent of the measure. “And while we’ve achieved incremental reforms in labeling and process in respect to plastics, we really haven’t tackled the reality that we are drowning in plastics.”

The initiative — known as the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act — would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030. It’s similar to an ordinance given preliminary approval last week by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, taking aim at single-use plastics and polystyrene in food service.

Currently, 85% of single-use plastics are not recycled, and single-use plastics make up 50% of plastic waste. The proposed law would also require that producers reduce or get rid of any single-use plastic packaging or food ware that CalRecycle determines is unnecessary for that product or food item’s delivery, and it would prohibit food vendors from distributing polystyrene food containers.

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Author: Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times
Image: Rick Loomis, Los Angeles Times