SB 54/AB 1080, introduced by State Senator Ben Allen (D–Redondo Beach) and State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D–San Diego) are one of the most important environmental bills in the legislature this year. These bills require businesses to reduce 75 percent of single-use plastic packaging in California by 2030 and mandates that all single-use packaging be recyclable and compostable by the same year. They are the same bill; one was introduced in the senate, the other in the assembly.
Taking strong action on climate change, which has proved so devastating to our state, involves remodeling the whole way we are living. This means avoiding the use of wasteful, petroleum-based products as much as possible.
According to a 2018 article in National Geographic, plastic manufacturing uses 8 percent of the world’s oil production, and that percentage is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2050. Moreover, Reuters stated last year that “Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell plan to invest in new petrochemical plants in the coming decades, betting on the rising demand for plastics in emerging economies.” This increase in plastics manufacturing would offset reductions in emissions by the use of electric vehicles.
We simply cannot allow this. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last year that we have only 12 years at the most to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and so we must do everything possible to keep petroleum use from expanding.
Plastic waste also does not biodegrade, and much of it ends up in the ocean. In fact, the aforementioned National Geographic article said that 18 billion pounds of plastic wind up in the ocean every year. Plastic does tremendous harm to marine life that ingest or become entangled in it. Recently, a whale washed ashore in the Philippines vomiting blood. It died shortly thereafter and was found to have 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.
California, a world leader in environmentalism, can show the way by mandating sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging both to combat climate change and to protect the precious marine life that share this planet with us.
We must take action commensurate with the scale of the environmental problems that face us. Please call your state assembly members and state senators and tell them to support this bill!
—- By Tina Gallier, Legislative Team Lead
More information from Californians Against Waste