Single-use plastic waste is getting phased out in California under a sweeping new law

Jul 1, 2022, 2:11 PM | Updated: 2:33 pm
Large amounts of trash and plastic refuse collect in Ballona Creek after first major rain storm, Cu...
Large amounts of trash and plastic refuse collect in Ballona Creek after first major rain storm, Culver City, California, USA. (Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images)

(CNN) — In an attempt to slash the wide-ranging impacts of plastic pollution, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the country’s most sweeping restrictions on single-use plastics and packaging on Thursday, the same day the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

The law requires that single-use packaging and plastic single-use food serviceware be recyclable or compostable by 2032. It also requires by 2032 a 25% reduction in the sales of plastic packaging and for 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled. And it establishes an accountability group, which will include industry representatives, to run a new recycling program overseen by the state.

“Our kids deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous impacts, everything from clogging our oceans to killing animals — contaminating the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat,” Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement. “No more.”

Stakeholders negotiated the language around the bill, attempting to design a law that would significantly cut plastic production, ramp up recycling and composting and shift the burden of plastics pollution to industry.

Newsom signed the law just as the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate planet-warming emissions from power plants. The opinion was roundly criticized by environmental advocates and scientists who have been sounding the alarm that the world is running out of time to get the climate crisis under control.

Plastics are responsible for at least 232 million tons of planet-warming emissions each year, according to a report released last year. That’s around the same amount as the average emissions released by 116 coal-fired power plants.

“Remember that when you’re making plastic, there’s the greenhouse gas emissions, but these facilities also emit massive amounts of air toxins and particulates,” Judith Enck, a former Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator and now president of Beyond Plastics, told CNN. “It’s really a health threat.”

Plastics also exacerbate environmental injustice. As the industry expands, refineries and production facilities tend to set up shop in largely marginalized communities of color. According to the report, more than 90% of the climate pollution from the plastics industry occurs in 18 communities along the Gulf Coast that are home to mostly low-income residents and people of color.

“California won’t tolerate plastic waste that’s filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe,” Newsom said. “We’re holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source.”

Ocean Conservancy, one of the non-profits involved in crafting the language of the bill, estimated the newly passed law alone could eliminate 23 million tons of plastic waste in the next decade — about 26 times the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s hard to capture how momentous this feels,” Anja Brandon, US plastics policy analyst at Ocean Conservancy and a principal contributor to the bill text, said in a statement. “We can’t solve this problem without U.S. leadership, and by passing this law, California is righting the ship. This is a huge win for our ocean.”

While the new law is a clear win for the climate, the environment and communities around plastics facilities, leaders within the plastics industry do not support it.

“The Plastics Industry Association is disappointed that, in the end, we cannot support today’s signed version of Senate bill 54,” Matt Seaholm, Plastics Industry Association president and CEO, said in a statement. “The plastics industry remained dedicated to a final compromise bill that we could get behind, supportive of a circular approach to eliminating plastic waste, which we, unfortunately, do not feel this bill accomplishes.”

A key measure in the law requires plastic producers to pay $500 million to the state each year for 10 years starting in 2027, which will be collected into the California Plastic Pollution Mitigation Fund. The fund will then be dedicated to “mitigating the environmental impacts of plastic,” the law says.

While the new California law puts a special emphasis on recycling, environmental experts have been sounding the alarm about the ineffectiveness of plastics recycling. California, for example, has fallen short of statewide goals of recycling 75% of waste by 2020. Of the state’s 77.4 million tons of waste generated in 2020, approximately 42% was recycled or diverted, according to a report from California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

In 2021, Americans recycled only about 5% of their plastic waste, a decline from the high of 9.5% in 2014.

“In this time of extreme polarization in our nation, California was able to show that we can pass strong environmental legislation with bipartisan support that brought together the environmental and business communities,” California state Sen. Ben Allen, author of the legislation, said in a statement. “With this new law, California continues its tradition of global environmental leadership.”

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

The man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie in New York state has been indicted by a grand ju...
Nicki Brown, Jason Hanna and Holly Yan, CNN

Suspect in Salman Rushdie’s stabbing pleads not guilty to attempted murder, assault

The man accused of stabbing award-winning author Salman Rushdie and injuring another speaker on stage in New York state last week pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault.
1 day ago
phone screen displaying a list of received Scam Risk phone calls...
Brian Fung, CNN Business

A monumental case looks to crack open the world of auto-warranty robocalls

No sentence in the English language may be more infuriating than the following 12 words: "We have been trying to reach you about your car's extended warranty."
1 day ago
PALM BEACH, FL - AUGUST 08: Supporters of former President Donald Trump rally near his home at Mar-...
Associated Press

Judge appears willing to unveil some of Mar-a-Lago affidavit

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to put forward proposed redactions as he committed to making public at least part of the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump's estate in Florida.
1 day ago
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (L) and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter attend the 25th annive...
JAY REEVES, Associated Press

Rosalynn Carter marking 95th birthday with butterflies

Rosalynn Carter turns 95 Thursday, and her birthday is being marked with butterflies.
1 day ago
In this photo provided by the National Park Service is the Abyss Pool hot spring in the southern pa...
Associated Press

Part of a foot, in a shoe, spotted in Yellowstone hot spring

Yellowstone National Park officials are investigating after an employee spotted part of a foot, in a shoe, floating in a hot spring in the southern part of the park.
1 day ago
(National Weather Service)...

Areas of flash flooding likely in southern Utah, Southwest US through the weekend

The desert Southwest, an area dealing with long-term megadrought, is bracing for a moderate risk of extreme rainfall which could lead to flash flooding as we head into the weekend.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Single-use plastic waste is getting phased out in California under a sweeping new law