Governor Signs New Recycling Laws

Sunday, October 15th was the deadline for Governor Jerry Brown to sign or veto legislation that had passed the legislature. The Governor has signed 9 bills into law which represented important wins in increasing recycling and reducing edible food waste. In fact, almost every recycling bill that made it through the legislature and onto Governor Brown’s desk has been signed into law.

Here is a summary of recycling legislation signed by the Governor:

New Laws to Reduce Food Waste

  • AB 1219 (Eggman) The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act strengthens and expands the laws which protect food donors from liability. The new law also requires health inspectors to provide education and outreach on food donor protection laws in order to put an end to the myth that businesses can be sued for donating food - a common misconception that results in food being tossed in the trash.  AB 1219 also explicitly provides protection for the donation of food that is past it's food date label, and extends liability protection to donations made directly to people in need. (CAW co-sponsored AB 1219 with CA Association of Food Banks.)
     
  • AB 954 (Chiu) addresses confusing and misleading food date labels that lead many consumers and stores to throw away perfectly good food every day. Date labels on food come in a countless variety, some that you might recognize include "use by", "best by", "sell by" or "enjoy by".

    AB 954 promotes the widespread use of two standard phrases for food date labels: “BEST if Used by” for freshness and “USE by” to indicate safety, while also discouraging consumer visible "sell by dates" that consumers confuse for expiration dates. This change will make the difference between different types of food date labels clearer for people. This new law also provides consumer education for the meaning and difference between food date labels. (CAW sponsored AB 954)
     
  • SB 557 (Hernandez) allows public schools to donate food items to food banks that have been served and placed on share tables. It’s unclear in current law if donation of unclaimed food on school share tables is allowed, leading to many schools throwing out that food. Schools now have explicit authority to donate that food to a non-profit that will redistribute it to those in need and will no longer be forced to throw out edible food. (CAW supported SB 557)

New Laws to Increase Recycling

  • AB 1158 (Chu), sponsored by the National Stewardship Action Council, will improve California's weak carpet recycling law and increase carpet recycling by 50% in two years. The new law protects consumer recycling fee funds from being inappropriately used or subsidizing the incineration of carpet, a wasteful and polluting practice. (CAW supported AB 1158)
     
  • SB 458 (Wiener) will temporarily relieve some pressure from California's beverage container recycling crisis which has led to hundreds of recycling center closures by authorizing mobile recycling center pilot programs across the state. The mobile recycling centers will operate for two years in areas where there is little to no access to a recycling location. (CAW supported SB 458)
     
  • AB 906 (Bloom) would prohibit the labeling of plastic bottles and containers with the #1 Resin ID Code (for PET/ PETE plastic) if they are made from PET-G. Because it has different physical properties and melting points, PET-G plastic cannot be recycled with other PET. This new law requires PET-G bottles and containers to be labeled with a #7 Resin ID Code, and requires manufacturers that use this material to pay a greater share of the cost of recycling the containers. Read more.  (CAW supported AB 906)
     
  • AB 1294 (Berman) stops greenwashing claims by permanently extending a requirement that manufacturers and suppliers of plastic food containers maintain documentation that prove their recycled content claims. This law was set to end in 2018, but it has proven to be useful in keeping recycled content claims truthful. Permanent extension of this law ensures that Californians can trust environmental claims made on plastic food containers. (CAW supported AB 1294)
     
  • AB 1572 (Aguiar-Curry) extends a law that makes it easier for local governments to report on their compliance with the state’s waste reduction and recycling law. This policy has proven to reduce complexity of reporting requirements and free up more time for local governments to focus on implementing their recycling programs. (CAW supported AB 1572)

New Investments in Waste Reduction Infrastructure

  • AB 109 included a $40 million investment from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the state’s recycling agency, CalRecycle. This money funds programs such as the Organics Grant program, which funds new or expanded composting and anaerobic digester facilities and their food recovery partners, the Recycling Manufacturing Grant program, which funds new or expanded facilities that use post-consumer recycled materials to produce new products, and the newly formed Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant program, which funds projects that divert edible food from landfills by reducing food waste or rescuing food for redistribution to people in need. This new food waste prevention and recovery grant program, which will now be extended for a second cycle, marks the first time that the CalRecycle has offered funding for organizations such as food banks and food pantries to increase their capacity for edible food rescue. (CAW supported AB 109)

Legislation Vetoed by Governor Brown

  • AB 725 (Levine) & SB 386 (Glazer) would have made all state parks and beaches smoke-free. Cigarette butts are the most commonly found item during beach and waterway cleanups, consistently ranking first according to International Coastal Cleanup data. Both bills were vetoed by the Governor. (CAW supported AB 725 & SB 386)