California Passes Most Aggressive Plastics Recycling Law in America

by Daanyal Raja

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a new law that requires all plastic beverage containers to be made with more recycled materials. With its introduction, companies that produce beverages must use 15% recycled plastic in all containers by 2022, 25% recycled plastic by 2025, and 50% recycled plastic by 2030. The law is the first of its kind in the nation and aims to reduce plastic litter. 

Supporters of bill AB 793 claim it will increase demand for recycled plastics and reduce pollution and resource consumption for goods that are used to make new plastics. 

Mark Murray, the executive director of Californians Against Waste, an environmental group based in Sacramento, called the law “the most ambitious, aggressive recycled plastics content law in the world.” 

“We are doing a really good job of collecting things for recycling,” Murray said. “The difficult part has been finding an end-use market for it. This new law is about closing the loop. Now companies that manufacture the plastic bottles have to buy them back. They’ll have the responsibility.”

The bill is a welcome addition, as many companies have already been moving towards recycled plastics in their products. Naked Juice’s bottles are made of 100% recycled content for all of its products and Evian aims to make all of its water bottles from 100% recycled plastic by 2025.

Plastic waste has become a major environmental problem, especially in the Oceans, where trash heaps such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch grow larger and larger.

A study from Science Advances estimates that only 9% of all plastics sold in the United States are recycled, with 13 million metric tons of it ends up in Oceans around the world every year. Once in the ocean, plastics are ingested by sea birds, fish, turtles, seals, and many other creatures, resulting in their deaths. The study also states that half the plastic ever produced was made in the last 13 years, highlighting how important it is that we curb our plastic production.

Plastic lasts for centuries, and constantly producing new products uses up great amounts of petroleum, which directly contributes to climate change. By being the first state in the nation to reduce its plastic production, California is leading a charge against climate change and hopes to set an example for other states to follow.