California can now hold the plastics industry accountable for its waste under new legislation to combat climate change.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 54 on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court capped the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. The legislation requires all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, cutting plastic packaging by 25 percent in 10 years.
The legislation also requires at least 65 percent of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled by Jan. 1, 2032. According to Newsom’s office, the legislation builds on the California Climate Commitment, a $53.9 billion plan to combat extreme weather and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
“Our kids deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous impacts, everything from clogging our oceans to killing animals – contaminating the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. No more. California won’t tolerate plastic waste that’s filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe. We’re holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source,” Newsom said.
The high court’s decision was a blow to the Biden administration’s attempts to reduce emissions amid the rapid pace of global warming. Biden called the ruling yet “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backward”.
“We cannot and will not ignore the danger to public health and existential threat the climate crisis poses. The science confirms what we all see with our own eyes – the wildfires, droughts, extreme heat, and intense storms are endangering our lives and livelihoods,” Biden said.
Biden said he will continue to use lawful executive authority, including the EPA’s legally-upheld authorities, to address the issue. He said he will work with states and cities to pass and uphold laws to protect the environment and public health.
California’s newly-passed legislation shifts the plastic pollution burden from consumers to the plastics industry by raising $5 billion from industry members over a decade to assist efforts to cut plastic pollution, according to Newsom’s office. The bill will also support disadvantaged communities hurt most by the damaging effects of plastic waste.
“SB 54 is the most significant overhaul of California’s plastics and packaging recycling policy in history goes further than any other state on cutting plastics production at the source and continues to build a circular economy that is necessary to combat climate change,” Newsom’s office wrote in a statement.