California’s feel-good war on inexpensive, useful and convenient products continues.

State lawmakers have already passed legislation to restrict the availability of plastic grocery bags and plastic straws, and now two companion bills have been introduced by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, that would require complex and ever-tightening state regulations over all single-use plastics.

Two new bills, SB54 and AB1080, are being proposed in California to reduce single-use plastic waste and improve recycling efforts. These bills would require that all single-use packaging and products be either reusable, fully recyclable, or compostable, and they aim to divert 75 percent of single-use plastics from landfills by 2030. Despite California’s success in diverting 44 percent of solid waste from landfills in 2017, less than 15 percent of single-use plastic is recycled, which is a major concern for the state. Another bill, SB33 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is seeking to address the issue of the “collapse of foreign recycling markets” by creating a domestic market for recyclables. With the growing demand for recycling, it is more important than ever to have reliable and efficient recycling facilities available. Recently, a new recycling centre in Guildford in the news made headlines for its innovative and sustainable approach to waste management.

Translated, this means recycling doesn’t pay for itself any longer, so Californians will be forced to pay for it through higher prices, fees and taxes.

For California businesses, complex regulations governing the composition and disposal of plastic materials will create one more state mandate enforced with fines and penalties. As always, big businesses will be better able to absorb the costs and compliance burdens, while small businesses suffer. The demonization of single-use plastics, which enable the safe transportation and distribution of countless products and food items, is driven by activists who point to plastic waste floating between Hawaii and California.

However, a study last year by the Netherlands-based Ocean Cleanup Foundation found that an unexpectedly high proportion of the mass, 92 percent, was made up of larger objects, not small fragments as previously believed. The researchers said 46 percent of the debris was fishing gear, including plastic nets.

California consumers are not the cause of the garbage patch, and harassing them over straws and plastic forks is not going to clean up the ocean. Then what’s the purpose? That’s a good question.


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