New Ways to Go Green
As we ring in 2022, the Golden State will take significant steps toward reducing plastic pollution, thanks to legislation I authored that will go into effect on Jan. 1. Assembly Bill (AB) 793 will make your sodas, bottled water and other drinks come in more environmentally friendly packaging. California is now the first state in the country to mandate post-consumer recycled plastic content standards for California Refund Value (CRV) beverage containers. My efforts were featured in a KQED television special last month, California’s Plastic Problem. I hope you watch it.
It’s ridiculous that companies make completely new plastic for their bottles. At the rate they’re going, plastic waste will outnumber the fish in our oceans by 2050. My law aims to reduce litter by creating a market for recycled plastics. Reusing plastic also supports the state’s transition to a circular economy and greater sustainability.
The law implements a phased-in approach. The next plastic drink bottle you grab will have at least 15% recycled materials. By 2030, the standard reaches 50% – the highest threshold in the world, surpassing the 30% mandate in the European Union. The AB-793 plastic bottle standard applies to all drinks sold in our state, regardless of where the container was made. Manufacturers will face fines for missing targets.
China and other overseas markets recently stopped buying much of California’s recycling. Recyclable plastic is now stacking up in warehouses, flooding our landfills and polluting our environment. AB-793 helps incentivize the domestic market for recycled plastic. Naked Juice’s plastic bottles have been made with 100% post-consumer recycled content since 2010, showing the switch can be successful.
This new law will also help increase access to recycling. The dwindling demand for recycled plastic has been a factor in the wave of recycling center closures in California, leaving consumers with fewer places to redeem containers for CRV deposits. Between 2016 and 2019, nearly 500 recycling centers closed across the state. My office has heard from proprietors of corner stores and other small retailers that had to either take back recyclables, using up precious storage space, or pay fines.
Thankfully, a new mobile recycling pilot program spearheaded by the San Francisco Department of the Environment starts this month. The program is one that was authorized under my AB-54 of 2019, which allocated funding and eased rules to establish mobile recycling centers.
It works like this: Uncrushed containers go in a blue bag printed with a QR code linked to an online account you create; you take your bags to a site where they are opened by staff and the containers counted by a sorting machine with CRV calculated. Payments can be deposited directly into a bank account or made via Venmo or PayPal. This system is based on one that has already shown success in Oregon.
Two mobile redemption sites open this month: one at Stonestown Galleria in my district, collecting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and Our Planet Recycling at 250 13th St., collecting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. More sites around the City will open starting in February. To learn more and sign up for a BottleBank CRV redemption account, visit sfbottlebank.org.
As the new legislative session has now begun, I’m already hard at work on this year’s budget and legislative priorities. I look forward to telling you about them in the coming months. If you have any feedback about legislation, or if you need help with a state agency, do not hesitate to contact my office at https://a19.asmdc.org/ or 415-557-2312.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.