SACRAMENTO—Despite the disappointing failure by the legislature to take up comprehensive legislation to tackle packaging and disposable products, the Pollution Reduction and Circular Economy Act (SB 54/AB 1080), Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a number of other nation-leading recycling bills this week. These include:
AB 1583 (Eggman) – Establishes the California Recycling Market Development Act which reauthorizes programs to offer Sales and Use Tax exemptions and loan interest loans for recyclers and manufacturers using recycled content. It also establishes a Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling to analyze what is and isn’t truly recyclable in California in order to adjust public messaging and statewide policy accordingly and to identify opportunities to redesign products for recyclability.
AB 827 (McCarty) - Requires businesses to make composting and recycling bins accessible to customers wherever they have trash bin.
AB 614 (Eggman) - Expands the Farm to Food Bank tax credit beyond fresh produce to include other staples such as rice, beans, eggs, nuts, and other goods.
AB 1162 (Kalra) - Prohibits the distribution of single-use toiletries at lodging establishments.
AB 187 (C. Garcia) – Updates the Used Mattress Recycling Act to increase consumer access to convenient recycling for used mattresses, including expanding free mattress pickup for consumers that purchases mattress online.
AB 729 (Chu) - Updates the Carpet Recycling Act to ensure that all funds collected pursuant to the program are actually used to fund carpet recycling.
Governor Newsom signed the CA Recycling Market Development Act, AB 1583 (by Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman). Co-sponsored by State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Republic Services, and Californians Against Waste, this legislation seizes the opportunity created by the recent loss of overseas recycling markets in China and much of Southeast Asia by reinvesting in domestic recycling and increased transparency of product recyclability. This bill reauthorizes the Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) revolving loan program and the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) sales and use tax exemption for recycling and remanufacturing equipment. It also creates a ‘Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling’ to oversee statewide messaging on recyclability and product redesign. Lastly, AB 1583 will eliminate the existing requirement for all plastic products to have the ‘chasing arrows’ symbol, a symbol that is easily confused with recyclability.
The bill’s author, Assemblymenber Susan Eggman issued the following statement: “Our current recycling crisis cannot be solved by any single solution – this bill is a key piece to the puzzle. Developing recycling markets in California will provide critical outlets for material that is now being rejected by foreign markets. Our recycling system is on the brink of disaster, and we need to step up and take responsibility for it.”
“This will create thousands of jobs and help the environment, which are two key goals of my administration,” said State Treasurer Fiona Ma. “It also directly contributes to a sustainable recycling infrastructure that is more resistant to the impacts of foreign markets, and expands the green economy.”
“Exporting our recyclables to be dealt with overseas is not a sustainable solution,” said Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy for bill co-sponsor Californians Against Waste. “Recycling material here doesn’t just have environmental benefits but also allows the state to benefit from the economic stimulus and job creation that comes from our own recycling efforts.”
“We’re grateful for the strong leadership by Governor Newsom, Assembly Member Eggman and State Treasurer Ma on AB 1583 in response to the loss of overseas recycling markets,” said Chuck Helget, Director of Government Affairs for bill co-sponsor Republic Services. “Their vision for creating domestic recycling markets will make it easier for the industry to innovate and invest in California’s recycling future.”
Governor Newsom also signed AB 614 by Assemblymember Eggman, which seeks to tackle both hunger and food waste by increasing food donation. This bill, co-sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks and Californians Against Waste, marks the third attempt by Assemblymember Eggman to enact a similar tax credit, including a previous iteration that was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
AB 614 will expand the current “Farm to Food Bank” Tax Credit beyond fruits and vegetables to include other staples in high demand at food banks, including dairy, beans, nuts, and more. The current tax credit has been successful in incentivizing agricultural producers to donate excess foods to those in need, an effort that otherwise would be an economic burden given the costs associated with the storage and transportation of goods.
“In addition to combating hunger, donating food also helps reduce methane emissions that would result in landfilling excess food. This bill is a win for farmers, the food insecure and the environment.” said Baani Behniwal, Policy Associate with Californians Against Waste, one of the bill’s sponsors.
“The expansion of donated foods eligible for this tax credit has been many years in the making, and a lot of work from advocates and staff,” said Assemblymember Eggman, the bill’s author. “I’m thrilled that Governor Newsom is dedicated to addressing the issues of massive food insecurity and food waste in California.”
Governor Newsom also signed AB 827 (authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and sponsored by Californians Against Waste) which makes composting and recycling bins accessible to customers at restaurants, malls, theaters and other businesses.
In an earlier statement, Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy for Californians Against Waste, the bill’s sponsor, said “California continues to lead the nation in increasing access to recycling and composting. Giving people an opportunity to recycle and compost where they live, work, and recreate will not only increase the amount diverted from landfills but will also reduce contamination across the recycling system by establishing consistent recycling habits.”
Clean-up bills on two of California’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs were also signed by the governor. AB 187 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia revised provisions in the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act and AB 729 by Assemblymember Kansen Chu revised those in the Carpet Stewardship Program. In addition to a number of revisions targeted towards strengthening each stewardship program individually, both bills include language to ensure that California fee payer money is kept in-state to support in-state jobs if the current stewardship organizations fail to renew their contracts.
AB 1162 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra tackled one stream of single-use plastic pollution—small plastic bottles from hotels. This bill will require lodging establishments to phase out small plastic bottles for personal care products and switch to more sustainable alternatives, such as bulk dispensers.
“I am proud to have authored legislation making California the first state in the country to accelerate more sustainable alternatives in the hotel and lodging industry by curbing our plastic consumption,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra, the bill’s author. “We have reached a tipping point for action and more needs to be done that transitions consumers and businesses towards more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives—and given our state’s large presence in tourism, this will be a model for the nation.”
“This bill is an example of business interests and policymakers working together to find a sustainable and economic solution to deal with a common plastic waste problem” said Robert Nunez, Policy Associate with Californians Against Waste, “This is an important step towards reducing California’s reliance on single-use plastics, keeping millions of small plastic bottles from ending up in CA landfills.”
Earlier in the year, the governor also signed two source reduction bills: AB 619, by Assembly Member David Chiu, which allows customers to bring their own reusable foodservice items to restaurants and temporary food facilities and SB 726, by Senator Anna Caballero, to allow the reuse of items that are considered “household hazardous waste,” such as leftover paint and cleaning products.
“These actions by Governor Newsom demonstrate his continued dedication to waste reduction and recycling,” said Nick Lapis. “Now all eyes will be on the legislature to pass SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez)—the California Pollution Reduction and Circular Economy Act—when they return in January. If the California legislature is serious about tackling pollution from disposable packaging and products, they will put this comprehensive policy on the governor’s desk in the beginning of the new legislative session.”
AB 792 (by Assemblymember Phil Ting), which would set the world’s most ambitious goals for minimum recycled content in beverage containers, is still on the Governor’s desk awaiting a signature.