As I walk around my neighborhood, local beaches, school, and other places in my town, I see hundreds of plastic and styrofoam products scattered on the ground. I think, who left this here? But more importantly, how might we fix this problem? This November, California may get a chance to reduce the litter we see all around us, as residents are fighting for the Recycling and Plastic Pollution act. The initiative means that all single-use plastics found in restaurants (foodware and packaging) must be reusable, refillable, recyclable or compostable by 2030, as well as single-use plastic production reduced by 25% in that same year. According to ABC7, the act would also prohibit stores from selling Styrofoam products such as “coolers, packing materials, cups, plates and pool toys, unless they are labeled as ‘durable material.’”
Though many are excited for this change, some small business owners are concerned about the extra costs affiliated with reusable goods, considering the toll Covid-19 has taken on many establishments. According to the LA Times, a representative of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association told the board that the initiative may reduce some waste, but it will more likely increase costs. The VICA says, “the cost of purchasing 100 compostable forks would pay for 1,000 plastic ones.”
However, supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis are calling for Los Angeles County to begin a year-long education campaign, teaching the businesses about requirements and materials leading up to the implementation of the law. They want to start the motion “to make sure that we work with our businesses. We want to make sure they’re not overburdened and have what they need to comply with this,” says Hahn.
California is not the first state to introduce this idea. In 2019, the island of Honolulu, Hawaii, banned all single-use food containers. Along with that, various states such as Oregon, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, New York, and Vermont have banned plastic bags, and other states plan to do the same as well.
So, what are the next steps? Vote for the future of California in November! As Democratic Senator Ben Allen said, “The truth is we just need less crap out there — less plastic out there in general.”
Written by: Ella Moseley – California high school student
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan – Getty Images