Roundup: U.S. California to phase out single-use plastic packaging under new law

LOS ANGELES, July 1 (Xinhua) -- California has taken nation-leading steps to cut plastic pollution under a new law that will phase out single-use plastic packaging in the most populous U.S. state.

The new California law, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, will require all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, cutting plastic packaging by 25 percent in 10 years and requiring 65 percent of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in the same timeframe.

"On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court kneecapped the federal government's ability to reduce pollution and tackle climate change, California took nation-leading steps to cut plastic pollution and hold the plastics industry accountable for their waste," said the governor's office in a statement.

The statement noted that it is the most significant overhaul of California's plastics and packaging recycling policy in history, goes further than any other state on cutting plastics production at the source and continues to build a circular economy that is necessary to combat climate change.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the country's Environmental Protection Agency does not have broad authority to regulate planet-warming emissions from power plants.

Additionally, the California legislation shifts the plastic pollution burden from consumers to the plastics industry by raising 5 billion U.S. dollars from industry members over 10 years to assist efforts to cut plastic pollution and support disadvantaged communities hurt most by the damaging effects of plastic waste, according to the statement from Newsom's office.

"Our kids deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous impacts, everything from clogging our oceans to killing animals - contaminating the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat," said Newsom in the statement.

"No more. California won't tolerate plastic waste that's filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe. We're holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source," he added.

"In this time of extreme polarization in our nation, California was able to show that we can pass strong environmental legislation with bipartisan support that brought together the environmental and business communities," said California state senator Ben Allen, author of the legislation.

"With this new law, California continues its tradition of global environmental leadership - tackling a major problem in a way that will grow markets in sustainable innovations, create incentives for investment, and set the stage for partnership with other states and countries on these issues," Allen said.

The law is "arguably the nation's most sweeping and comprehensive plastic pollution bill," commented the Los Angeles Times, the biggest newspaper on U.S. West Coast, in a newsletter published on Thursday.

Christy Leavitt, plastics campaign manager with Oceana, a non-profit ocean conservation organization, told the newspaper that people "shouldn't expect to see major changes today or tomorrow. But over the next few years, we'll see a noticeable decrease in single-use plastics and a change in how we consume our products."

Californians will see less plastic packaging and foodware in grocery stores, at other stores, in restaurants and in their homes. The oceans, marine life and waterways will possibly be the biggest beneficiaries, as the amount of plastic escaping California's borders drops, according to the report.

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