For the second straight year, the state Legislature fell short of passing a pioneering bill to reduce the use of single-use plastic waste by 75%, as Monday’s midnight deadline for legislation this year expired without a final vote. Less than 15% of California’s single-use plastic is recycled, overseas markets for the state’s recyclables have dried up and concerns are growing over the impact of the waste on marine life. That’s led environmentalists and numerous lawmakers to push for the landmark bill, which was designed to make the dramatic cuts in plastic waste by 2032 through a combination of less plastic use, more recycling and more compostables.
Activists again lamented failure of the measure, which would have addressed both plastic packaging and single-use products like utensils and cups. “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. “California lawmakers delivered disappointment instead of plastics reform, but this missed opportunity won’t dampen the movement.”
Like last year, identical bills were presented by both the Assembly and the Senate, with both being easily approved by their respective chambers. The Assembly version, AB 1080, even received approval Sunday by the Senate, but needed and failed to get a subsequent final concurrence vote in the Assembly on Monday. “The silver lining is the strong support we have from the public on this issue,” said Dan Jacobson, director of Environment California. “People want to see change. And we will be back to clean our oceans. The fight continues.”
Opponents included the California Chamber of Commerce, which said in an opposition statement posted online Aug. 26 that the bills failed to adequately address the need for a radical increase in recycling infrastructure, that funding for the program was inadequately detailed, that the state’s recycling agency was given too much authority, and that the maximum fine of $50,000 per day was excessive.