Recology, the Bay Area waste hauler, and environmental groups filed a proposed initiative Monday that would require plastic manufacturers to dramatically reduce the amount of products that people use once and toss in the trash. The initiative, aimed at the November 2020 ballot, is a more far-reaching version of two waste-reduction bills that died at the state Capitol this year,both were opposed by the plastics and petroleum industries.
Eric Potashner, vice president of Recology, said the consequences of inaction are mounting as plastic strangles marine habitats and overwhelms recycling facilities. He also signaled that qualifying the initiative for the ballot is intended in part to get state lawmakers to do something in 2020 that they could not this year — pass a major bill designed to cut plastic pollution. “We’re running out of time,” Potashner said. “We need a backup plan if the Legislature is not able to do something significant on plastic-packaging pollution.”
Supporters must collect 623,212 signatures of registered California voters by the end of April to qualify the proposed initiative for the November ballot. Tim Shestek, a lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council, which represents the plastics industry, said the “timing of this new proposal strikes us as odd,” given that lawmakers are working on a major packaging recycling bill that could pass in January. “This new initiative proposal will only serve as a distraction, and resources that could be going toward recycling could now be unnecessarily wasted,” Shestek said in an email.
The measure would require manufacturers to make all plastic packaging and single-use foodware items, including cups, straws and utensils, recyclable or compostable by 2030.