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Press Release

Leading Environmental Organizations Applaud Passage of Landmark Bill to Tackle Plastic Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 30, 2022

SACRAMENTO – Many of California’s leading environmental organizations are applauding the Legislature for passing Senate Bill 54, which creates the nation’s most comprehensive and ambitious policy for combatting plastic pollution. 

SB 54 earned overwhelming bipartisan votes in both the Assembly yesterday (67-2 vote) and Senate today (enter final vote count). The bill now heads immediately to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his signature.

This achievement would not have been possible without the tireless work of advocates in local communities pushing for change, including Azul’s groundbreaking work with the United Nations Environment Programme to expose the harms of plastic pollution on already vulnerable populations around the world.

The coalition also appreciates the tireless work by leaders at CalRecycle to help ensure Senate Bill 54 is crafted to be successfully implemented, and will advocate for resources they will need to stand up and oversee this robust and significant new program. 

Senate Bill 54 includes the following provisions to make California the first state in the nation to:

  • Require producers to reduce single-use plastic packaging and foodware by 25%, by both weight and unit, by 2032
  • Require producers and plastics resin manufacturers to pay $500 million a year for ten years ($5 billion total), starting in 2027, in environmental mitigation funds to address harms to disadvantaged, low-income, and rural communities, as well as recover, restore, and protect the natural environment
  • Require producers to reduce at least 10% of their total single-use plastic packaging and foodware by eliminating it from the market without replacing it with another material, 4% must be eliminated through the use of reuse and refill systems 
  • Require any implementing regulations, infrastructure, or investments avoid causing disproportionate harm to disadvantaged, low-income, and rural communities

SB 54 also requires packaging producers take financial responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products through extended producer responsibility, with strong oversight and enforcement by CalRecycle; requires that all single-use plastic packaging and foodware actually be recyclable or compostable by 2032; requires that all plastic packaging meet a 65% recycling rate by 2032 (made possible through producer investments in recycling infrastructure); defines recycling as maintaining materials in the circular economy, and excluding incineration, combustion, or other plastics to fuel technologies to meet required recycling rates and prohibits investments in these harmful, non-circular technologies; and bans expanded polystyrene foodware by January 1, 2025 unless industry is able to demonstrate a 25% recycling rate for the prior year as determined by CalRecycle.

Supporter Quotes

“With the world watching, today, California has raised the bar and created an ambitious blueprint to begin tackling the global plastic crisis. Senate Bill 54 has all the elements to ensure impactful and enduring reduction of single-use plastics - it is data driven to ensure measurable source reduction goals are met, and was developed in partnership to balance the needs of the state, environmental advocates, and forward thinking industry.  We urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law and would like to thank Senator Ben Allen, Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, and their staff for championing plastics policy that ensures equitable protection of our ecosystems and communities across the state.” 

Dr. Alexis Jackson, Associate Director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Oceans Program

“We at Monterey Bay Aquarium have fought to reduce ocean plastic pollution in California for more than a decade and are thrilled by the bipartisan support that won passage of SB 54 by the California legislature. This precedent-setting bill will help tackle the ocean plastic pollution crisis by reducing the amount of single-use plastic packaging in the marketplace and holding companies accountable for the waste they produce. We are very grateful to Senator Ben Allen, Assembly Natural Resources Chair Luz Rivas, their staff, and the legislative leadership that passed this first-in-the-nation legislation.”

Amy Wolfrum, California Ocean Policy Senior Manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium 

“This is a big deal. California – the U.S.’s most populous state and the fifth largest economy in the world – is one step away from passing the most ambitious plastics legislation ever seen in the United States, the number-one global generator of plastic waste. We are grateful to Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, and all their staff for their hard work and perseverance getting us to this point, and urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law so that California can lead the United States out of our ocean plastics crisis.” 

Dr. Anja Brandon, U.S. Plastics Policy Analyst, Ocean Conservancy

“This landmark legislation was developed using good old fashioned negotiations between all stakeholders. SB 54 is the whole package: Good policy developed collaboratively, and passed by the Legislature with a 2/3rd bipartisan vote. We urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law so California can finally begin to achieve its goals of waste reduction, reducing GHG emissions, and making producers pay for the life cycle impacts of their products.”  

Heidi Sanborn, MPA, Founding Director of the National Stewardship Action Council

"California is on track to once again be a leader in tackling the global plastic waste crisis. By approving Senate Bill 54, the state legislature has set our state on a path to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up contaminating our environment and harming public health. This bill is a monumental step forward and the culmination of more than four years of organizing and advocacy. We thank Senator Allen for his leadership and to the State Assembly and Senate for finally holding producers responsible for the plastic waste harming our communities."

Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG State Director

“Today, California once again solidified itself as an environmental leader by passing the boldest plastic source reduction policy in the country to protect our oceans, communities, and climate. Senate Bill 54 raises the bar for state and national action to reduce industry's single-use plastic habit and set the stage for a more sustainable future with reusable and refillable alternatives.  It's time for the plastics industry to stop using a material that lasts forever to make products that are used once and thrown away. Oceana applauds the legislature for listening to the voices of Californians who are asking for change. We thank Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Luz Rivas for their fearless advocacy and we urge Governor Newsom to sign this momentous bill into law.” 

Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s Plastics Campaign Director 

“This bill is a historic achievement. California is on the verge of systematically addressing the crisis of plastics pollution - the first state in the nation to do so. Thanks to SB 54, producers will be required to reduce single-use plastics over time and pay billions of dollars in environmental mitigation funds. And at long last, all single-use plastic packaging and foodware must actually be recyclable or compostable by 2032. Overwhelmingly, California voters support these types of policies. After decades of work to tackle plastics pollution, we are close to achieving groundbreaking change."

Mary Creasman, Chief Executive Officer, California Environmental Voters

"Too often, we use plastic wrapping and containers for just a few minutes and then toss them into the trash. This plastic builds up in our environment, polluting our land and water for hundreds of years. With millions of pieces of plastic floating in our rivers and ocean, it’s easy for birds, fish and sea turtles to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—with life-threatening consequences. By passing Senator Allen’s updated plastics legislation this week, the California legislature is leading the country in keeping plastic waste out of the landfill and truly prioritize wildlife over waste.” 

Laura Deehan, State Director, Environment California 

Contact: Kevin Liao,
[email protected] 

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