L.A. residents will soon give up plastic as officials approved toughest reduction rules

Josue Torres
(Canva Pro)

Companies that sell shampoo, food, and other items packaged in plastic have limited time to reduce their usage of the material if they want their products to be sold in Californian stores.

A major legislation that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Thursday intends to greatly increase recycling rates for single-use plastic and focus considerably on reducing its usage. 

Legislators said they hope it sets an example for other states to follow since it establishes the nation’s strictest rules for the use of plastic packaging.

According to the proposed legislation, plastic manufacturers will have ten years to drastically cut the amount of plastic in single-use items. 

Reducing container size, converting to new materials, or making the product easily reusable or refillable are all ways to achieve the desired decrease in plastic packaging. 

Additionally, by 2032, recycling rates for plastic will need to increase dramatically to 65 percent from the current levels. Plastic drink bottles, which have different recycling regulations, wouldn’t be covered by it.

Years of legislative attempts to prohibit plastic packaging have failed, but the prospect of a comparable ballot initiative being approved by voters in November encouraged industry groups to engage in negotiations. 

After the bill passed, the measure’s three primary supporters pulled it from the ballot, despite their worries that the plastics sector would try to lessen the standards.

States have enacted prohibitions on single-use plastic straws, supermarket bags, and other things, and national parks will soon forbid the use of plastic water bottles. 

But plastic is still widely utilized, appearing in everything from soap and laundry detergent bottles to vegetable and lunch meat packing. 

Millions of tons of plastic waste wind up in landfills and the seas worldwide because the majority of plastic items in the United States are not recycled. Microplastics from it are found in drinking water and endanger animals.

The task of creating a plan to comply with the standards would fall to the industry organization of plastic manufacturers, which would then need the state’s recycling department’s approval. 

Producers will be obliged to contribute $500 million yearly to a fund for the removal of plastic pollution. 

Styrofoam food packaging would still be allowed, but it would need to be recycled at a rate of 30% by 2028, which some advocates claimed amounted to a de facto ban because the material cannot be recycled. 

The proposal on the vote would have outright outlawed the material. Instead of allowing the sector to organize itself, it would have given the state recycling agency more control over how to carry out the regulations.

The measure’s supporters said they are still worried that the industry would try to weaken the legislation even after they dropped their ballot effort. 

Although the measure forbids burning and combusting plastic, it does permit some types of so-called chemical recycling.

Even when California’s plan goes further than that of any other state in decreasing plastic pollution, according to Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics, it still falls short. She said that while manufacturers may make their items refillable or move to other materials, the overall amount of packing will only be reduced by around 10%. 

Enck said that the new restrictions make too much use of ineffective plastic recycling laws.

According to her, the world’s plastic manufacturing is anticipated to quadruple by 2050.

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