6 California bills aimed to curb plastic pollution and litter – where are they now?


A package of six state bills aimed at reducing plastic and cigarette-butt litter — with an emphasis on trash that ends up in the ocean — has met with a mixed fate, with half advancing and half dying in their legislative chamber of origin.

Building momentum on California’s 2016 ballot referendum upholding a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, the state Senate passed a bill targeting plastic food packaging at state beaches and parks, and another that would ban smoking on state beaches. Those bills will now be considered by the Assembly.

The Assembly passed a measure designed to limit the use of plastic straws, which now goes to the Senate. All three bills were passed largely on party-line votes, with Democrats backing the measures and Republicans opposed.

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However, bills designed to reduce microfibers in the ocean, bottle-cap litter and cigarette butts on all beaches have all died for lack of support.

“While this is a good start, much more needs to be done to protect our ocean, waves and beaches,” said Trent Hodges, plastic pollution manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “The California legislature needs to step up its leadership in tackling plastic pollution at the source.”

A closer look at the six proposals:

Food packaging

SB 1335 would require that take-out containers and other single-use packaging for ready-to-eat food and beverages at state beaches, parks and other large state facilities be recyclable. Food wrappers are the most commonly found beach trash, according to the 5 Gyres Institute, which is dedicated to reducing plastic pollution

The measure passed the Senate 22-13. Some Republicans who opposed the measure expressed concern about the increased cost at state facilities potentially forcing some food vendors out of business.

Additoionally, some vendors prefer polystyrene containers because of their favorable insulation.

Plastic straws

AB 1884 would ban restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws unless requested by the customer. Some restaurants have already instituted this practice while others use compostable paper straws. Plastic straws are the fifth most common beach trash in the U.S., according to the 5 Gyres Institute.

The measure was passed 49-25.

Among opponents, Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, said litterers should be punished rather than restaurants. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said she preferred an approach based on incentives rather than punishment.

The bill calls for fines …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

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