Sweeping bills to reduce plastic waste stall in California Legislature

Media Releases

Media Contacts
Emily Rusch

Vice President and Senior Director of State Offices, The Public Interest Network

The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act would slash plastic waste by 2030


SACRAMENTO — Last night the California state Legislature failed to act on the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act before they adjourned for the year. The landmark companion bills put forth in both the Assembly (AB 1080, Gonzalez) and the Senate (SB 54, Allen) put California on a path to reducing single-use packaging and foodware by 75 percent by 2030. 

The legislation requires manufacturers to design their products to reduce unnecessary packaging waste. By 2030, all packaging and single-use foodware would need to be recyclable or compostable, and producers would be required to ensure that their products are being recycled at a 75 percent rate over that same time period.

“It’s tragic how often we see animals harmed by plastic pollution in our oceans, whether it’s straws in their nostrils or bags in their bellies. California should be a leader in addressing this crisis, so yesterday’s result was a disappointment,” said Dan Jacobson, state director of Environment California, which helped promote the bill. “Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our environment and put our beloved wildlife at risk for hundreds of years.”

This summer, Environment California canvassers went door-to-door across the state and had more than 100,000 conversations with people about the impacts of plastic pollution. What Californians told the canvassers matches research done by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). According to a recent PPIC poll, an overwhelming majority of Californians (72 percent) agree that “plastics and marine debris are a big problem in the part of the California coast that is closest to them.” 

“The legislature missed a golden opportunity to start moving our society beyond single-use plastics,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, another key supporter of the bill. “If we can figure out how to make a plastic spoon out of petroleum, surely we can figure out how to reuse that plastic instead of throwing it away. California needs to step up its leadership by creating the right rules and incentives to reduce waste. We’ll be looking to the legislature to act as soon as they return to Sacramento in January.”

The legislation could still be brought up for a vote when the legislature reconvenes in January 2020.