A newly signed law in California is set to reduce amounts of plastic waste, improve recycling rates, and place more responsibility on producers rather than consumers to curb plastic pollution.
The new law requires a 25% decrease in single-use plastics entering the market over the next 10 years, and nearly half of that reduction must come from eliminating plastic packaging or switching to reusable, refillable systems rather than swapping plastic for other single-use materials, like paper. According to Ocean Conservancy, this requirement could prevent an estimated 23 million tons of plastic by 2032. Additional mandates include requiring all single-use packaging and foodware, not just plastic, to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, reaching a 30% recycling rate for plastics by 2028 and 65% recycling rate for plastics by 2032, and providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to support communities and restore ecosystems that face the worst impacts of plastic pollution.
As of 2021, the U.S. plastic recycling rate is an estimated 5% to 6%, and in California, plastic recycling rates are below 5%. The bill sets a target for a major increase in recycling, paired with mandates focusing on reusable alternatives to plastic packaging and foodware in the state.
California is the fourth state to pass such a law, following Colorado, Maine and Oregon.
This is a big win for our oceans, but much more can be done and faster than this. We must drastically reduce the amount of plastic we use.
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