On September 1, 2020, the state of California’s legislature failed to pass assembly bill AB-1080 intended to reduce the waste generated by single-use packaging. Introduced initially in June 2019 (FPF reported), the most recent version of the bill would have created a return deposit scheme for all beverage containers and required a 75% reduction of waste generated from single-use packaging and identified priority single-use products by 2032. It would have also required all single-use packaging and priority products to be recyclable or compostable. Although the senate version of the bill (SB-54) did pass just days before, both chambers are required for it to be considered for enactment into law.

Opponents of the bill told Cal Matters that “it’s established that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt our economy and has been especially harsh to communities of color,” and argued that “in its current form, [this legislation] would further exacerbate those issues.” Advertising used for this argument focused on the importance of single-use plastics in the restaurant sector to protect guests. However, proponents argued this failure was the result of a multi-million dollar lobbying effort from packaging producers, and advocates for reusable food packaging have defended it as safe given proper cleaning and sanitizing systems (FPF reported). Senator Ben Allen commented “there’s more plastic being used now than ever, and as a result, we should be doubling down on our efforts to ensure that the plastic and non-plastic packaging that we’re using will actually end up being recycled or reused.”

On August 30, 2020, the state did pass another bill that will require plastic bottles in the state to contain at least 50% recycled plastic by 2030.

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Rachel Becker (September 1, 2020). “Legislature narrowly rejects nation’s toughest restrictions on plastics.” Cal Matters

Keller and Heckman LLP (September 17, 2020). “CA Legislature Passes First-in-the-Country Requirement for Recycled Content in Plastic Bottles.”

Rachel Arthur (October 2, 2020). “California’s 50% recycled content goal: Ambitious – but obtainable, say Coca-Cola, Nestlé, KDP.” Beverage Daily

Keller and Heckman LLP (October 15, 2020). “CA to Require Minimum Recycled Content in Plastic Bottles.”

Gabriel Thoumi (December 22, 2020). “Opinion: California introduces world’s toughest plastic bottle recycling legislature – will other markets follow?