Environmental advocates in California who successfully pushed for a ban on single-use plastic bags have expanded their fight against plastic waste, targeting straws and bottle caps and calling on the state to increase the amount of recycled material in plastic water and soda bottles.

The efforts face stiff opposition from the beverage and plastic industries, however, and opponents buried one bill on Monday. 

Assembly Bill 319, introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, aimed to reduce plastic bottle cap waste by prohibiting retailers from selling bottled beverages with a cap not tethered to the container. Lacking enough support from fellow Assembly Democrats, he decided to let the measure die without a vote.

Stone said the resistance from the beverage industry on his tethered cap bill was strong and featured the use of misleading tactics.

“We expected that pushback from the industry,” Stone said. “But at some point, we really owe it to ourselves to pursue a comprehensive strategy to limit overall plastic usage.”
Stone has made efforts in the past to restrict individual plastic products, including unsuccessful attempts to ban plastic cigarette filters. He plans to propose a similar ban again this year and to keep up the effort to limit plastic bottle cap waste.

Stone said he would like to see lawmakers and private industry put together a comprehensive plan to address plastic waste overall, but disagreements have hindered that process. Until that happens, Stone said, “we’re left with policies around individual products.”

Joining the push to limit plastic waste is Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, who introduced a bill last month that would prohibit dine-in restaurants from giving plastic straws to customers unless customers request them. Calderon says the bill would not ban straws but would attempt to limit their use and protect the environment.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time-use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans,” Calderon said in a news release announcing the bill.

Republicans have blasted the effort as unnecessary and an example of the worst kind of restrictive “nanny government.” 

Jon Fleischman, a conservative blogger and former state GOP official, said while littering should be punished, Calderon’s proposal is “nonsensical” and would impose “overarching restrictions on everyone.”

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