Governor Gavin Newsom Signs Six Bills That Will Help Reduce Plastic Pollution
Plastic Oceans International has been proud to be part of the Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition, a collective of like-minded organizations advocating for the California Circular Economy Package of legislation.
We joined this effort because the catastrophic impact of plastic pollution needs to be addressed by legislative action to support a circular system where waste is reduced, materials are reused and natural environments are regenerated.
After a few years of advocacy work, we are excited that five of the bills that address plastic pollution were signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, October 5; with a sixth being signed the following day.
Those five bills will enforce change in how waste is managed, reduce our consumption of single-use products and ensure truth in labelling to improve better end-of-life waste management. Their basics are as follows:
- SB 343 – Truth in labeling for recycled materials: Ensures that recycled materials are truly recyclable in local waste management systems.
- AB 818 – Requires packaging for diaper wipes, cleaning wipes, and cosmetic wipes to display clear “Do Not Flush” warnings
- AB 881 – Reclassifies exported mixed plastic waste as disposal, not allowing it to be counted as “recycled.”
- AB 962 – Allows for reusable glass bottles to be recycled intact, which creates jobs and reduces waste.
- AB 1201 – Truth in labeling for compostable products: Ensures products labeled “Compostable” can truly be composted.
- AB 1276 – Eliminates unnecessary single-use foodware and requires reusable options for onsite dining.
The Governor signed all five of these into law on Tuesday, October 5.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH BILL AND THE PROBLEMS THEY SOLVE
SB 343 – Truth in labeling: Ensures that recycled materials are truly recyclable in local waste management systems.
The Problem: The recycling system is complicated by too many types of recyclable and unrecyclable products. Recycling capabilities are different from one community to another in California. Producers/manufacturers are able to add the “chasing arrows logo” causing false advertising This creates confusion for consumers.
The Solution: SB343 would prohibit deceptive recyclable labelling; requiring that the chasing arrows logo be used ONLY on goods that are recyclable in the majority of California communities. This legislation would reduce consumer confusion, improve the recycling system, and decrease taxpayers costs for waste management.
Supporters: Bipartisan support, waste management industry, waste haulers, environmental organizations and local governments.
Opposition: Plastics industry, battery companies, product manufacturers
AB 818 – Requires packaging for diaper wipes, cleaning wipes, and cosmetic wipes to display clear “Do Not Flush” warnings
The Problem: Thousands of sanitary wipes are flushed down toilets every year in California, with an expense of over $50 million to remove them.
The Solution: The legislation establishes disposal labeling requirements for wet wipes packaging and requires manufacturers of wipes to educate the public on the impacts of flushing wipes improperly.
AB 881 – Reclassifies exported mixed plastic waste as disposal, not allowing it to be counted as “recycled.”
The Problem: To achieve waste reduction goals, California has diverted much of its plastic waste to other countries that cannot properly manage the waste because countries that accept such waste are typically vulnerable, impoverished communities. This waste is counted as “recycled” but, in reality, is very often dumped illegally, landfilled or incinerated causing pollution problems in the local community.
The Solution: AB881 reclassifies the export of mixed plastic waste as waste, and not recycled; allowing real recyclable goods to continue counting towards California’s reduction goals.
AB 962 – Allows the easier reuse of glass bottles by beverage makers
The Problem: Glass bottles go into the general recycling system, where they are crushed and turned back into another glass bottle. This laborious process reduces glass recycling by ~25% – leaving nearly 450,000 tons of beverage glass bottles to go directly to landfill. All beverage glass bottles (wine, spirits, beer, milk) could be simply cleaned and reused by beverage makers, increasing reuse of bottles to reach 100%.
The Solution: AB962 creates a returnable bottle system in California, where bottle washing is incentivized over recycling.
AB 1201 – Truth in labeling: Ensures products labeled as “Compostable” can truly be composted.
The Problem: End-of-life claims of “compostable” or “biodegradable” suggest a natural unharmful degradation process when a product reaches its final use. However, many of the products labeled “compostable” contain synthetic materials (eg PLA) and chemicals (eg PFOAs) that contaminate natural organic compost. The poor labeling of “compostable” vs “noncompostable” products also poses the problem of separation because they are visually indistinguishable from each other, which leads to cross contamination.
The Solution: AB1201 ensures that products labeled “compostable” are truly compostable and ensures that toxic and harmful chemicals stay our of natural compost stream.
AB 1276 – Eliminates unnecessary single-use foodware and requires reusable options for onsite dining.
The Problem: Restaurants and stores unnecessarily provide plates, cups, utensils, condiments, lids, straws, napkins… to consumers without being requested. More often than not, these items are thrown away without ever being used. Disposable foodware items account for nearly 5 million tons of waste a year in the United States. Not only do these items add to the landfills, they complicate the recycling system and pollute our environment and waterways in our communities.
The Solution: AB1276 expands the plastic straws upon request law to include all food accessories applied to delivery services, take-away, and on-site dining restaurants. This bill will also require reusable food serviceware for on-site dining.
We thank Governor Newsom, the California legislators that supported these bills, and all of our coalition partners for the hard work and courage that it took to make these new laws a reality. We continue to advocate for the reduction of plastic pollution around the globe, including as members of the Chile Plastics Pact, which recently led to nationwide legislation there that limits single-use plastic.