Plea against plastics

California lawmakers hold press conference to drum up support for a ban on single-use plastic products, but can their bills beat a legislative deadline?

A plush stuffed turtle sat on a podium in front of the state Capitol, reminding attendees at an Aug. 21 press conference just exactly who is getting hurt by single-use plastic and why Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 should pass.

Supporters held plastic bottles, but the bills also aim to rid landfills and oceans of other plastic refuse, including hotel shampoo bottles and takeaway containers.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego, author of AB 1080, called her bill important “for all of California” and not just a “coastal issue.” Gonzalez described her district as experiencing a “double whammy,” as she said it is under-resourced and the amount of trash there is “unbearable.”

“It’s time we hold manufacturers responsible,” she said.

State Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica applied an economic perspective to his companion bill, saying that “our cities stand to lose literally billions as a result of the crap in our recycling system and waste management system.” He said money allotted toward litter removal could be better spent “improving your parks, going to transportation, going to senior centers, improving our enforcement. Whatever it may be, that’s money out the door.”

Attendees not only heard from lawmakers but from business owners such as Sloane Read of Refill Madness, a Sacramento soap refillery and gift shop, as well as from Eric Potashner from Recology in San Francisco.

Opponents argue that the bills require manufacturers and businesses to have only recyclable packaging but don’t address the “needed collection and processing infrastructure needs to ensure collected material is actually recycled or composted,” according to a legislative bill analysis.

Versions of both bills are alive but must pass by Friday to be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom to decide whether to sign them into law.