California Bans Recycling Symbol on Non-Recyclable Items

Not everything can be recycled, even some items that have recycling symbols on them. California took steps toward becoming the first state to change that. A bill passed by the California state assembly bans companies from using the recycling arrows symbol on non-recyclable items.

The measure, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is part of a nascent effort across the country to fix a recycling system that has long been broken.

According to the most recent estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency, materials like paper or metals are widely recycled, but less than 10 percent of plastic consumed in the United States is recycled.

California State Senator Ben Allen, a Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor said;

It’s a basic truth-in-advertising concept. We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they’re going to be recycled, but actually, they’re heading straight to the landfill.

Instead, most plastic is incinerated or dumped in landfills, with the exception of some types of resins. For years, the United States has been shipping much of its plastic waste overseas, choking local rivers and streams. A global convention now bans most trade in plastic waste, though the U.S. waste exports have not completely ceased.

California Bans Recycling Symbol on Non-Recyclable Items

Image: Econlib

This summer, Maine and Oregon passed laws overhauling their states’ recycling systems by requiring corporations to pay for the cost of recycling their packaging. In Oregon, the law included plans to establish a task force that would evaluate “misleading or confusing claims” related to recycling.

Legislation is pending in New York that would ban products from displaying misleading claims. Californians have a widespread concern about the negative effects of plastic production and pollution, which is why over 900,000 people signed the petition to place the initiative on the ballot in spite of the pandemic’s interruption of the 2020 circulation period.

A 2020 survey by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 94% of Californians see plastics and marine debris as a problem on the California coasts closest to where they live, and a poll conducted by FM3 indicated 7 in 10 prospective voters would support this measure.

Californians are clearly ready for comprehensive solutions that address plastic waste. The measure provides an extensive way out of the state’s plastic crisis, from product manufacturing and use, to disposal and recycling, to polluted habitat restoration and neighborhood clean-up.

Through a maximum one-cent per item fee on manufacturers of plastic packaging and food ware, the measure will make a once-in-a-generation investment in communities and natural resources to prevent the harmful effects of plastic pollution and clean up their impacts.

Via: Ars Technica

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