Plastics clog our oceans and clutter land fills. About half of our global plastic use is in single-use products such as cling film, packaging, or plastic bags. Countries around the world have begun banning these products in an effort to protect ecosystems. California has recently enacted a new, sweeping law which will dramatically cut single-use plastic production and shift the burdens of plastic pollution to the industries which churn them out and advocate against restrictions.
Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed the bill into law. It requires that single-use packaging and plastic single-use foodservice disposables be recyclable or compostable by 2032. By 2032, a 25% reduction in the sales of plastic packaging will be implemented. By that date, 65% of all single-use plastic packaging will be recycled. “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,” said Newsom. “No more.”
The law was signed on the same day the Supreme Court handed down a huge blow to environmental efforts by limiting the power of the EPA to regulate emissions. The decision made environmentalists, scientists, and activists furious, but the California law is receiving praise as a much-needed state-level step in the right direction. “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.” This health threat is not distributed evenly, affecting poor and marginalized communities more severely.
California joins Canada, France, the UK, India, the EU, New Zealand, and some other U.S. states in banning certain single-use plastics. Such legislation is popular around the globe. “It’s hard to capture how momentous this feels,” Anja Brandon, U.S. plastics policy analyst at Ocean Conservancy, said. “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.”
California has passed a sweeping law to reduce single-use plastic production and waste.