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California Governor signs landmark bill to tackle plastic pollution

California adopts groundbreaking policy to reduce single-use plastic packaging, foodware
For Immediate Release

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed California’s landmark Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54) on Thursday, following a vote this week in both the state Assembly and Senate. Introduced by Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica, this landmark anti-plastic pollution legislation mandates reductions in single-use foodware and packaging, requires single-use items to actually be recyclable or compostable by 2032 and holds plastic packaging producers financially responsible for cleaning up the waste their products create. 

The new law comes after years of advocacy and organizing by CALPIRG, CALPIRG Students, Environment California and dozens of other public health and environmental organizations.  The final package requires: 

  • Producers reduce single-use plastic packaging and foodware by 25%, by both weight and unit, by 2032;

  • All single-use plastic packaging and foodware be actually recyclable or compostable by 2032;

  • All single-use plastics meet a 65% recycling rate by 2032 – with a strong definition of recycling that doesn’t include incineration and other harmful forms of disposal;  

  • Plastics producers and plastic resin manufacturers pay $500 million a year for environmental cleanup funds;

  • Packaging producers (of all materials) take financial responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products through extended producer responsibility, with strong oversight and enforcement by state recycling management program CalRecycle;

  • Bans expanded polystyrene foodware by January 1, 2025 unless industry is able to demonstrate a 25% recycling rate for the prior year as determined by CalRecycle.

In response to the committee passage, Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG, and Laura Deehan, State Director of Environment California, issued the following statements: 

“California will once again be a leader in tackling the global plastic waste crisis,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG. “By enacting Senate Bill 54, the governor and state legislature have set our state on a path to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic we produce, and help push back on the rising tide of plastic waste choking our communities and environment. This bill is a monumental step forward and the culmination of more than four years of organizing and advocacy. We thank Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Luz Rivas for their leadership and to the State Assembly and Senate for finally holding producers responsible for the plastic waste harming our communities and our environment.” 

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.” said Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California. “With millions of pieces of plastic floating in our rivers and ocean, it’s easy for birds, fish and sea turtles to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—with life-threatening consequences. With the passage of Senator Allen’s plastics pollution legislation into law, California once again becomes the nation’s leader in keeping plastic waste out of our waterways and truly putting wildlife over waste.” 

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