A group of bills now on the governor’s desk could help change Californians' relationship with plastic.
If they become law, the five bills are designed to interrupt the lifecycle of plastic in the environment. Under one bill, people will have to ask for straws at full-service restaurants. There will also be a funding increase for recycling centers, and non-recyclable or non-compostable take out containers will be banned at state facilities.
"What we're trying to do is poke at some of the biggest sources of plastic pollution,” said Mark Murray with Californians Against Waste. “We accept the plastic bag, or we accept the plastic straw. All of those things add up over time."
Another of the potential laws would force California to develop a plan for decreasing the amount of microplastics in the ocean. The last would require all drinking water to be tested for plastic contamination.
"This is the beginning of the next step in terms of identifying the problem, not just studying the problem, but actually coming up with strategies for reducing plastic pollution in our environment,” Murray said.
He says these potential changes could come at a perfect time, as China is increasingly saying no to imported plastic recyclables. In the meantime, he says people should be aware of how much one-time use plastic they purchase.
Opponents of the straw measure say the plan would be burdensome to businesses while not significantly reducing waste.
Brown has until Sept. 30 to veto the bills or sign them into law.
California plastics bills:
- AB 1884: Requires restaurants to offer straws only upon request
- SB 452: Increases funding for recycling centers, increasing opportunities for consumers to redeem bottles and cans
- SB 1335: Prohibits non-recyclable and non-compostable takeout food packaging at state facilities, including parks, beaches, colleges, and fairgrounds.
- SB 1263: Directs the Ocean Protection Council to develop a plan for stemming the growth of microplastics in the ocean
- SB 1422: Requires all drinking water to be tested for plastic contamination
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