SB 705 (Allen) Ocean Pollution Reduction Act of 2017
Summary: SB 705 is a measure which would phase out expanded polystyrene (commonly known as 'Styrofoam') takeout food packaging statewide.
Position and Status: CAW is supporting this bill.
- Introduced February 17, 2017
- Passed Senate Environmental Quality committee April 25th, 2017
- Passed Senate Appropriations committee May 26, 2017
- Next Step: Senate Floor refused passage on May 31st, 2017, bill placed on inactive file.
Description: California law mandates a 75% statewide waste diversion goal by 2020, and in order to achieve that goal the amount of packaging going into landfills must be decreased. Food packaging such as expanded polystyrene, or foam plastic, has a low recycling rate in the state due the lack of available recycling locations as well as the contamination of food making it virtually useless for recyclers. Polystyrene is one of the largest component of marine debris pollution because it is easily transported by wind and rain into the marine environment. Once in the environment, it kills marine wildlife, including sea birds and turtles, which mistake it for food. SB 705 would ban the use of 'Styrofoam' food takeout containers statewide.
Up to 80% of ocean pollution is litter from urban runoff, and non-recyclable single-use food packaging is a primary component of urban litter. Takeout food packaging comprises a disproportionately large portion of non-recyclable waste and is the second greatest component of litter (behind tobacco products), comprising 20-30% of all litter. Without state action to address the problem of ocean plastic pollution as a result of takeout food packaging litter and waste, local agencies have been left to enact a patch work of local restrictions: Santa Monica has banned non-recyclable packaging; San Francisco and others have banned polystyrene packaging; Oakland has enacted a ‘litter tax’ on the fast food sector. Almost 100 total jurisdictions have banned expanded polystyrene food takeout packaging from food vendor distribution.
Recent amendments taken in the Senate Appropriations Committee: SB 705 would enact a tiered implementation of the ban to accommodate smaller restaurants. Large restaurants would be required to comply by January 1, 2020 and smaller, non-chain restaurants would implement the law two years later, in 2022. K-12 school, correctional facilities, and state hospitals would be exempt from the bill. Additionally, restaurants would be allowed to apply for a hardship exemption that could exclude them from the bill's requirements.