Can a fishermen get along with an environmentalist? Assembly Bill 521, authored by Assembly Member mark Stone with Sentor Ben Hueso, known as the Marine Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act, got enough votes to pass to the next stage of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. What this bill means is the producers of plastic single-use packaging do their best to keep the plastic out of the rivers, lakes and oceans, and encourage the plastic producing industry to devise packaging that will save money by reducing trash management, cleanup and recycling costs. The answer to that question is yes.
Plastics represent 60-80% of all marine debris and 90% of all floating debris. According to the California Coastal Commission, the “Pacific Trash Vortex” or “Garbage Patch” which tends to collect in certain areas of the ocean, the North Pacific Central Gyre represents the significant quantities of plastic that end up there.
Most plastic marnie debris exists as small particles due to excessive IV radiation exposure and photo-degradation. These pieces are confused with small fish, plankton or krill and resemble food to marine animals. Plastic bags resemble jellyfish to turtles and has a negative effect worldwide on 663 animal species; ½ of all marine mammals and 1/5 of all species of seabirds, for example 90% of Laysan albatross chicks have plastic debris in their gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to the physical pollution, the hydrophobic chemicals present in the ocean in trace amounts, have an affinity for and can bind to, plastic particles where they enter and accumulate in the food chain.
The main 4 objectives of this bill are to:
1. Reduce single-use packaging,
2. Prevent and control litter and plastic debris,
3. Cleanup and remove ocean litter,
4. Coordinate with other jurisdictions in the pacific region.
The act prevents the at-sea disposal or plastic and other solid material for all navigational waters of the United States
- The act also requires the US EPA, the NOAA and the US Coast Guard to jointly conduct a public education program on the marine environment.
- The Act also requires the state to make a list of impaired bodies of water and develop and implement Total Maximum Daily Loads TMDL’s for the bodies of water.
- It also regulates discharges of pollutants in storm water and urban runoff through the municipal storm drainage systems.
- The act also requires each city to divert 50% of solid waste landfill disposal and not less than 75% of solid waste be reduced, recycled or composted.
- Certified used oil or latex paint collection centers for used oil from the public and transported for recycling, implement an education program and use a reporting, monitoring and enforcement program.
- Establishes the Cell Phone Recycling Act, which requires every retailer of cell phones to also have a system for collection of used cell phone for reuse, recycling or proper disposal.
- Establishes the Dry Cell Battery Management Act, which establishes requirements for every retailer of rechargeable batteries to have a place for acceptance and collection of used rechargeable batteries for reuse, recycling and proper disposal.
- Establishes the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act, which requires manufacturers to include collection, handling and arranging for proper management of mercury thermostats.
- Requires pharmaceutical manufacturers that sell or distribute hypodermic needles or home users of hypodermic needles to take action for safe collection and proper disposal of.
Organizations in opposition to the Assembly Bill 521 passing:
American Chemical Council
American Cleaning Institute
California Chamber of Commerce
California Manufacturers and Technology Association
California Restaurant Association
Consumer Specialty Products Association
Dart Container Corporation
Grocery Manufacturers Association
National Federation of Independent Business
SPI: The plastics Industry Trade Association
Toy Industry Association
Western Plastics Association
Those in support:
Aquarium of the Bay
California Against Waste
California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
City of Monterey
Clean Water Action
Communities for a Better Environment
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association
Heal the Bay
May Crowley, Executive Director and Founder of Ocean Voyages Institute
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