Everyone knows that California is radical in their environmental regulations. On June 30, Governor Gavin Newsom cheerfully signed “the country’s most sweeping restrictions on single-use plastics and packaging.” Despite the inconvenience, that’s actually a good thing this time. If the rest of the world doesn’t get on board along with them soon, the human race will be poisoned into extinction.
California cracks down
The impact of plastic pollution, pretty much everyone can agree, is catastrophically “wide-ranging.” Microplastics are everywhere, even the most remote polar regions. It’s in the bodies of every organism on the planet and contributing to mass extinctions. Homo Sapiens could soon be on the endangered species list.
While California may be on the cutting edge, their new law will have a tough time getting implemented. The same day it was signed, the “Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to tackle the worsening climate crisis.” Some you win, some you lose.
Hopefully, California will find a workaround to sidestep the fresh limitations on EPA authority. Once in a while, humanity needs to put aside their differences to address a common threat. This is one of them. Plastic pollution threatens conservatives just as much as liberals.
While everyone admits these are far from comprehensive solutions. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and this is a big one in the right direction. Sure, straws come in handy but nobody is dying to slurp a soda. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Hopefully we can come up with better straw technology. The 70’s generation never imagined someday we would be engineering the “six-million-dollar straw.” Better, stronger, faster… We never forgot that crying Italian dressed up as an Indian, either.
The new law in California mandates all “single-use packaging and plastic single-use food serviceware be recyclable or compostable by 2032.” A ten year goal. Also by then, the law requires “a 25% reduction in the sales of plastic packaging and for 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled.”
To accomplish that, the regulation “establishes an accountability group, which will include industry representatives, to run a new recycling program overseen by the state.” None of that sounds impossible to deliver. It’s also too little, too late but we’ll take what we can get.
A future free of plastic waste
“Our kids deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous impacts, everything from clogging our oceans to killing animals — contaminating the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat,” Newsom proclaimed in a statement. “No more.”
That’s an understatement and surprising for a California liberal. We won’t have kids in the future if we don’t do something about the plastic waste. It’s already getting harder to have kids now. The infertility rate is spiking like inflation numbers.
The plastics industry was kept in the loop and “negotiated the language around the bill, attempting to design a law that would significantly cut plastic production, ramp up recycling and composting and shift the burden of plastics pollution to industry.” The California measure is the first real attempt to do something about the out of control threat to humanity.
Liberals are upset because plastics “are responsible for at least 232 million tons of planet-warming emissions each year.” That’s the same as “116 coal-fired power plants.” It’s still only the tip of the iceberg.
Setting aside the obvious toxicity of plastic and micro-plastic particle waste, “plastics also exacerbate environmental injustice.” That means “as the industry expands, refineries and production facilities tend to set up shop in largely marginalized communities of color. According to the report, more than 90% of the climate pollution from the plastics industry occurs in 18 communities along the Gulf Coast that are home to mostly low-income residents and people of color.”
We used to have some pretty colorful fish in the Gulf, too. They’ve been replaced by the colorful plastic kayaks the Green Peace whale-huggers use to torment the oil rigs in. “California won’t tolerate plastic waste that’s filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe,” Newsom said. “We’re holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source.”