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The Nature Conservancy Celebrates Landmark Plastic Pollution Legislation

A surfer walks along a trash strewn beach.
Surfer on trash strewn beach. © Jason Childs

“California establishes the nation’s most comprehensive and ambitious policy to reduce pollution from single-use plastic packaging and foodware.”

Today, with strong bipartisan support, the California Legislature passed SB 54, the Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act, the nation’s most comprehensive policy to curb the sale, distribution and import of single-use plastic packaging and foodware. Promptly signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom, this landmark legislation marks an ambitious step toward a plastic-free California, requiring all single-use plastic packaging and foodware to be recyclable or compostable, and setting a precedent-setting target requiring at least a 25% reduction in plastic waste over the next decade. In response, Jay Ziegler, Director of Policy and External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy in California, released the following statement about the path forward to address the ongoing plastic pollution crisis.

“California is leading the way on environmental protection and tackling the exponential rise in plastic pollution that is warming our planet, choking our waterways, polluting our air and contaminating our food and bodies. For more than three years, The Nature Conservancy has worked tirelessly to achieve comprehensive action to reverse this trend. This historic shift away from single-use plastic would not have been possible if not for the leadership of the bill’s author, State Senator Ben Allen and Assembly Chair of Natural Resources Luz Rivas; technical amendments from CalRecycle; and the efforts of our coalition partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Ocean Conservancy and Oceana, among many others.

“This bill allocates $5 billion over the next 10 years to recover, restore and protect California’s lands and waters from the harms of plastic production and pollution and to support disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately impacted. It not only measurably reduces the impact of plastics to our environment, but also forces the plastics industry to acknowledge and pay for the harm done to people and nature. Today’s passage and signing of SB 54 sends a signal to the rest of the nation that we can and must adopt the most comprehensive and equitable approach to reverse the plastic pollution crisis. 

“Californians deserve clean parks, beaches, rivers and food sources free of single-use waste. We look forward to creating durable change through this policy by reducing our plastic footprint and moving toward more sustainable packaging in the U.S. and around the globe.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.