We have written a lot about plastic alternatives you can use and consumer-focused options for reducing plastic waste. Indeed, this is often the focus of efforts to reduce plastic waste. Not enough pressure is put on manufacturers to reduce how much plastic they produce.
A new California law, though, called SB54 will reduce plastic waste by improving recycling and placing responsibility in the hands of producers rather than consumers.
Landmark protection against plastic
The Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act was passed with a sweeping majority in the state senate and state assembly. California is the fourth state to make such a law, following Colorado, Maine, and Oregon.
SB54 requires that producers reduce the amount of plastic they produce by 25 percent by 2032. Most of the reductions focus on plastic packaging, mandating a switch to refillable and reusable containers and systems or switching to different materials, like paper or biodegradables. The law will also require that all single-use packaging and food ware be recyclable or compostable by 2032.
Ocean Conservancy estimates this will prevent 23 million tons of plastic by 2032.
“It’s hard to capture how momentous this feels,” Anja Brandon, U.S. plastics policy analyst at Ocean Conservancy and a principal contributor to the bill. “The United States is the number-one generator of plastic waste in the world and a top contributor to the ocean plastics crisis. 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.”
Even though it’s the fourth state to do so, California, as the largest economy in the country, usually leads the way in legislation of this kind for the rest of the country. Hopefully, this will begin a trend of banning plastics that will carry throughout the United States and reduce plastic waste for the world’s largest producer.