Plastics Bills SB 54 / AB 1080, Explained

By: Jill O’Keeffe, SD350 Legislative Intern

What is the plastic problem?

Single-use plastics dominate our everyday lives: from your morning coffee cup to grocery store bags. After one use, most of these products and packaging will go directly to landfills. Here, they will sit for the next thousand years.

About eight million metric tons of plastic flow into the oceans around us choking sea turtles and entangling fish each year1. In our oceans, plastic poses a major threat to ecosystems and to humans2.

The threat of plastics on our climate begins with their initial production. Plastics are made from petrochemicals, which support a greater dependence on the oil industry and fossil fuels. Decreasing global plastic demands will allow communities to distance themselves from fossil fuels and toward greener, renewable sources.

How can SB 54 / AB 1080 mitigate human health and environmental impacts?

SB 54 / AB 1080 were introduced and amended by Senator Ben Allen and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez respectively. The bills are supported by nonprofit and environmental groups including the Surfrider Foundation, the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and 350 groups across California.

These bills establish a comprehensive framework to:

  • Reduce 75% of all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in CA by 2032
  • Make all single-use packaging and products recyclable or compostable after 2032
  • Encourage in-state manufacturing using CA-generated recycled material

Benefits of eliminating single-use plastics include:

  • Sustain healthy oceans and protect marine life: Plastic pollutes the ocean from the surface to the seafloor. Without intervention the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean yearly will likely triple by 20403.
  • Achieving our clean energy goals: These bills are a key step to pivot CA closer to its green energy goals by mitigating plastic generated. Currently, plastics production currently accounts for nearly 4% of global fossil fuel production.
  • Creating thousands of green jobs in California: Single-use plastics sustain a lower job market. CalRecycle estimates if met, the state’s in-state infrastructure recycling goals could generate 110k jobs in addition to the existing 120k employees in recycling today.
  • Reduce COVID-19 waste boom: As corporations usher a surge of single-use plastics into our homes during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that those items are recyclable or compostable, and to innovate to put reusable systems in place.
  • Protecting our frontline communities: The increasing surge in plastic use exacerbates health risks from production predominantly in communities of color or low-income communities.

How can YOU take action?

Call Your Representatives: Urge your state legislators to protect our environment, health, and economy by supporting SB 54 and AB 1080. Click here to confirm your lawmaker.

For more information and resources visit our Plastic Bills Toolkit.

Learn more about Single-Use Plastics:

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