Today was the last day for Governor Schwarzenegger to act on bills passed in the 2010 legislative session. As a whole, this year was another disappointing one for waste reduction and recycling bills. In addition to the failure of AB 1998 (Brownley) plastic bag legislation in August, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 737 (Chesbro). AB 737 was a landmark bill that would have expanded recycling to all apartments and businesses. Despite broad support from waste haulers, local governments and environmental groups, Governor Schwarzenegger once again sided with apartment owners and the state's Chamber of Commerce in opposing a policy that would have extended the opportunity to recycle for millions of Californians. Governor Schwarzenegger also vetoed SB 1454 (DeSaulnier), which would have protect consumers against plastic manufacturers making deceptive "green" marketing claims on their products.
Despite this year's major setbacks for waste reduction and recycling policy, the Governor did sign legislation that will establish and finance recycling programs for used paint and carpet, two problems products that have cost local governments millions of dollars to manage.
AB 1343 by Assembly Member Huffman will require manufacturers to operate and finance a recycling program for used paint. Local governments in California have long provided a drop-off opportunity for used paints, but at a considerable cost to tax payers. AB 1343 will reduce the financial burden on local governments and hopefully increase paint recycling rate. Post-consumer paint is the single largest source of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) generated in California, representing 35% of the HHW volume collected by local governments. In 2008, over 26 million gallons of paint were collected in California, costing local governments over $27 million. Local governments have no choice but to bear the high cost because paint is prohibited from disposal in California solid waste landfills. "This signifies a great need for a convenient recycling program that is cost-effective and reduces the financial burden on local governments and protects the environment," says Assemblymember Huffman.
AB 1343 represents a compromise solution between the paint industry, environmental groups, and local governments. A similar policy was enacted in Oregon in 2009.
The carpet recovery bill, AB 2398 by Assembly Member John Perez, will establish the nation's first comprehensive and industry-financed carpet recycling program. Carpet is a significant waste problem comprising 3.2% of all waste disposed in California, but it also represents a tremendous recycling opportunity. Most carpet is made from petroleum, generating a large greenhouse gas footprint. Recycling this material would save over 9 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, while reducing landfill disposal.
California has been working with the carpet industry since 2002 when they committed to reach 25% recycling goal by 2012. Today the carpet industry recognizes that that goal will be unattainable without a mandatory program that eliminates the "free-riders" and ensures that all carpet manufacturers are involved in funding and participating in a carpet recovery program. AB 2398 will create a level playing field for all carpet manufacturers, provide stability to the recycling industry, increase recycling efforts, and create green jobs in California.
Thanks to your efforts, we were able to generate more than 2,500 support letters to policy makers for recycling bills, but (as usual) we remain financially out-gunned. This year, the plastics industry, Chamber of Commerce, CA Manufacturers and Technology Association, and the California Realtors Association spent millions on lobbyists and misleading propaganda to oppose our legislation. While we had two important recycling victories, we still need your continued financial support to combat against these well-funded industry opponents. Please consider making an online donation today.