SACRAMENTO – Many of California’s leading environmental organizations are calling on the Legislature and Governor Newsom to pass Senate Bill 54 this week.
Working with Assembly Natural Resources committee chair Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), lead author Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) amended Senate Bill 54 on Friday night to strengthen environmental protections, increase CalRecycle’s authority, and make important clarifications.
As plastic waste proliferates around the world, an essential question remains unanswered: What harm, if any, does it cause to human health?
A few years ago, as microplastics began turning up in the guts of fish and shellfish, the concern was focused on the safety of seafood. Shellfish were a particular worry, because in their case, unlike fish, we eat the entire animal—stomach, microplastics and all. In 2017, Belgian scientists announced that seafood lovers could consume up to 11,000 plastic particles a year by eating mussels, a favorite dish in that country.
On any given afternoon, the garbage cans in San Jose’s Westfield Oakridge Mall food court overflow with plastic spoons, forks, soft drink cups and takeout food containers. Paper frozen yogurt containers are mashed in with plastic boba tea cups and soda bottles.
The same can be seen across California — piles of single-use plastics that can’t easily be recycled, pollute roadsides and waterways and add to the garbage that clogs landfills.
Plastic is a big part of our everyday lives: It keeps our food fresh, has made all kinds of advanced medical equipment possible, and is a key component in a broad range of innovations from cars to computers, from phones to contact lenses.
But new research is finding plastic in places you wouldn’t expect: in our water, in salt, and in the placentas of pregnant women. Tiny particles of microplastics are in the air we breathe and in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.
A new initiative to regulate and reduce plastic packaging in California has already made its way onto the ballot for the 2022 election. And environmental experts are hopeful about the impact new legislation could have on the environment.