The California State Senate on May 29 passed the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (SB-54), which aims to set a bar for reducing single-use packaging across the country. The legislation—introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)—applies to all single-use packaging sold in California, as well as the top 10 single-use plastic items found during beach cleanups.
Companion legislation (AB-1080)—introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)—is anticipated for a floor vote on May 30 in the California State Assembly.
After the measure passed the Senate, Oceana lauded California’s legislation.
“Solving the plastics problem in our oceans will take a concerted effort from the companies that are producing and selling these materials,” said Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist at Oceana, in a statement. “This legislation will create the framework desperately needed to turn the tide on our single-use plastics problem. We applaud these state leaders and urge that these bills remain strong in their commitment to meaningfully and drastically reduce the impacts of single-use products. As the fifth-largest economy in world, California has the opportunity to remain an environmental leader on responsible plastics policy and inspire national and international change.”
“Single-use plastic pollution is plaguing our oceans,” said Oceana Chief Policy Officer Jacqueline Savitz in a statement. “It is highly irresponsible for companies to use a material designed to last forever to make something they know we will use for just minutes or seconds and then discard. The three R’s start with reduce. To the extent that this action drives reductions in corporate plastic use, it will be a major step forward. But make no mistake, we cannot recycle our way out of the plastics crisis. We must reduce the amount of single-use plastic being pumped into commerce by consumer goods companies, and California is an excellent place to start.”
Plastic pollution has grown into a major global crisis for the oceans, with an estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic entering the marine environment from land-based sources every year, Oceana points out.