90% of Californians Think Single-Use Plastic is Unbearable

Photo by Sandra Curtis

California Businesses, Local Governments, and Environmentalists Join Bipartisan Lawmakers’ Group to Urge Passage of Law to Cut Packaging and Plastic Product Pollution

SACRAMENTO —  Today California businesses, local governments, environmental advocates, and students joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the California State Capitol to call for the passage of a proposed law offering the most comprehensive framework in the nation to curb the single-use plastics and packaging waste crisis. The rally highlighted the findings of a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll revealing that 90% of Californians think plastic pollution is a problem for the future of the state. 

The coalition urged passage of Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez) and Senate Bill 54 (Allen), together known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, a proposed law addressing the waste crisis from beginning to end — from before a product is ever created or purchased, until it is ready for disposal.  The measure requires that manufacturers transition their products from wasteful, harmful single-use packaging and the top ten most littered single-use plastic items to reusable, compostable, and/or recyclable models.  It creates reasonable timelines to make these changes, requiring an overall waste reduction of such items by 75 percent by the year 2030. The Act also calls for incentives for in-state manufacturing using recycled materials.  Together, these requirements will cut back on the amount and type of trash going into landfills and litter entering neighborhoods, parks, waterways, and the ocean, which will protect wildlife and human health.

“Our local communities are in the middle of a waste crisis, and our neighborhoods and waterways are polluted with litter. We need to act, and we need to do more than one-off bans on products. AB 1080 takes a comprehensive approach to the plastics problem,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, author of AB 1080. “It’s time to pass AB 1080 and make California a leader in reducing pollution from single-use packaging and plastics.”

“We have a waste and pollution crisis on our hands, and the bottom has fallen out of the global recycling market with China’s decision to no longer take our trash,” said Senator Ben Allen, author of SB 54.  “This legislation provides a comprehensive plan to transition manufacturers and consumers toward more sustainable packaging and products. Single-use plastic items are destroying our oceans, marine life, and the broader environment, and harming human health.  And cities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on waste management and cleanup that could be used for other essential services. It is time for California to take this crisis seriously and set a course to address it that will be a model for other states and countries to follow.”

By increasing recycling rates and incentivizing the in-state manufacture of goods using more recycled content and materials, the Act will end California’s existing reliance on other countries to take its waste, and it will boost the state economy.  Currently, California waste and recycling industries are struggling to adapt to China’s 2017 “National Sword” policy to stop accepting other nations’ trash. This has resulted in Californians’ garbage and recyclables piling up at local waste facilities, going into landfills, being incinerated, or being shipped to other countries in Asia that cannot process the sheer amount of trash coming to them.  California’s local governments — and, therefore, ratepayers — are experiencing increased costs as a result. But if fully implemented, the Act’s 75 percent recycling rate will help reduce California’s need to ship so much waste out-of-state. It is also expected to double the existing 125,000 California jobs in recycling and manufacturing, and to reduce the costs of disposing of plastic waste.  

SB 54 is currently under consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and AB 1080 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  They must be passed by the Legislature by September 13 and signed by the Governor by October 13 to take effect. If passed, the Act will provide a blueprint for a long term reduction in the quantity of single-use plastics affecting California ecosystems and taxpayer dollars and human health. 

“Plastic Pollution Coalition urges your support of this legislation to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste in California,” said Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. “It’s time for California to take the next step towards Zero Waste to protect human and animal health, waterways, oceans, and our environment for years to come.”

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The Future is Now: PSI CEO Joins TerraCycle® CEO to Present A Crash Course In Designing for the Circular Economy

Scott Cassel and Tom Szaky team up with innovators in sustainability on new book The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular

BOSTON, Mass. — Scott Cassel, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder, joined forces with Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of groundbreaking waste solutions company TerraCycle, on the mission to eliminate waste. Available nationwide today, Szaky’s fourth book The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2019) offers a roadmap out of the modern waste crisis through packaging design.

More than 50 million tons of packaging and paper products are disposed of in the U.S. each year, representing a missed opportunity to recover valuable resources. For over a decade, PSI has sought circular solutions by bringing stakeholders together to advance product stewardship for packaging, with a focus on producer responsibility. Cassel’s chapter in The Future of Packaging dives deeper into the rationale behind this approach and the benefits to be gained from holding brand owners responsible for reducing the impacts of their packaging choices.

“By sharing diverse perspectives from governments, brand owners, and waste management firms, this book powerfully transforms the issues we’ve avoided into ones we are motivated to tackle head-on,” says Scott Cassel. “My chapter calls for a paradigm shift in producer responsibility, placing waste and materials management in the hands of the producer as an asset, not a burden.”

Designed to be a primer on packaging design for the circular economy, The Future of Packaging integrates perspectives from Szaky and 15 innovators in sustainability -including government leaders, corporate risk takers and international waste management experts – to create a guide that can help everyone from a small startup to a large corporation move towards a future of innovation and growth with less waste.

“Acknowledging the tall order of changing course away from climate catastrophe means addressing it from several angles,” says author Tom Szaky. “I have had the privilege to co-author this book with the best minds in the global packaging movement-folks who have been championing this new frame of thinking for decades. Together, they provide the tools for anyone, consumer to corporation, interested in innovating upwards out of this mess and into abundance.”

Called “a crash course for designing for the circular economy” by Unilever CEO Paul Polman, The Future of Packaging contextualizes the historical and economic factors that spurred modern society’s “business as usual” preoccupation with disposability, explains the current state of manufacturing, recycling, and resource management, and inspires critical thinking about the true function of our packaging.

Topics include the evolution of plastic and recommendations and “watch-outs” for producing and consuming in the circular economy. For instance, biodegradable and bio-based plastics may not be as “green” or sustainable as marketed, black plastics are typically non-recyclable, and though lighter in weight, packaging such as pouches and cartons also take a toll on the planet. This book will empower champions for change and a more sustainable future.

To learn more about PSI’s work to advance producer responsibility for packaging and paper products, please visit www.productstewardship.us/Packaging.

To learn more about TerraCycle and its mission to Eliminate the Idea of Waste, please visit www.terracycle.com.

PSI and Terracycle are Plastic Pollution Coalition members.

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Today the European Commission has stepped forward to address plastic pollution with the release of its Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy, reports the Rethink Plastic alliance

The Strategy lays out the Commission’s approach to reduce the impact of plastic pollution, including a commitment to investigate the scope of a legislative initiative on single-use plastics.

The Guardian reported the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.

“The European Commission is showing willingness to tackle the plastic pollution crisis,” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, coordinator of Rethink Plastic, “but it is now essential to bring forward ambitious legislation to drastically reduce the consumption of both single-use plastic items and packaging within this Commission’s term.

Rethink Plastic praised the fact that the Commission has started the process to restrict the use of intentionally added microplastics in products such as cosmetics and detergents under the REACH legislation, and hopes that this will lead to a comprehensive ban of all microplastic ingredients.

The Commission also announced a ban on oxoplastics. “This is an important environmental win. There is no place for oxo-plastics in a true circular economy, and a ban is urgently needed,” said Lévi Alvarès.

The Rethink Plastic alliance expects the European Commission to deliver on its commitments and show true global leadership towards a future free from plastic pollution.

See also: Over 150 organizations back call to ban oxo-degradable plastic packaging

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The Made Out of WHAT Los Angeles Exhibition opens this Sunday in Los Angeles, California, with a preview party showcasing thought provoking art, eye-popping design, fashion, and jewelry created from waste materials.

The mission of Made Out of WHAT is to accelerate the circular economy by promoting the adaptive reuse of industrial and post-consumer waste through art and design from around the world.

The show is curated by Denise Domergue, founder of Made Out of WHAT, and features artists Hilary Beane, Marc Beekmann, Garth Britzman, Dianna Cohen, Maria Fiter, Claudia Grau, Faiza Hajji, Kate Ingold, Aaron Kramer, Cynthia Minet, Cima Rahmankhah, Alisun Franson, Karyl Sisson, Laura Stefani. Marcia Stuermer, and Gabriel Wiese.

Made Out of WHAT Los Angeles Exhibition will be open daily Dec. 12-22 from 1 pm to 7 pm.