It appears increasingly likely Californians will get a chance to vote on a single-use plastics ban in November after efforts to craft compromise legislation came under fire from groups supporting the ballot measure. Led by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), lawmakers submitted a bill they hoped would preempt the initiative and head off a costly initiative battle and possibly years of litigation. Some environmental groups support the legislation, but key backers of the ballot measure say it gives away too much to the plastics industry, which has fought off numerous previous attempts to restrict single-use containers, including those made of polystyrene.

Polystyrene — the lightweight foamy plastic found in disposable coffee cups and some food containers — is a dividing line in the debate. Allen’s bill does not ban polystyrene, as the ballot measure would. Instead, it calls for a 20% polystyrene recycling rate by 2025.

“We need to get the most problematic material out of the system,” said Linda Escalante, Southern California legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is one of the three ballot initiative petitioners, along with Michael Sangiacomo, former president of the Bay Area waste management firm Recology, and Caryl Hart, vice chair of the California Coastal Commission.

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Author: Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times
Image: Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times