By Doug Brooms, Board Member & Co-Chair Zero Waste Advocacy Committee
In the NCRA eNews October edition, it was reported that Governor Newsom had passed 13 of 14 Bills which NCRA supported. This had been a greater number of NCRA supported Bills passed than in any prior Legislative Session, dating back to 2013. This had been remarkable, given the pale imposed by Covid-19.
Of these 13 Bills, 7 had been presented as a package of Circular Economy Bills, and “wrangled” through the Legislature under the auspices of EcoConsult and the Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition (CSLC).
2021 is the second year that NCRA has been a subscribing member of the CSLC, along with ten other notable state and national environmental advocacy organizations. CSLC is a sponsor of two Bills, AB 962 and AB 1276.
EcoConsult is one of a small cadre of environmental lobby firms, and far out numbered and out spent by industry lobbyists who represent businesses more committed to preserving the status quo. Genevieve Abedon has been our voice at the table in Sacramento, “waste deep in sausage making”, in negotiating with industry advocates towards reaching Bill language compromises. Every two weeks via Zoom, she kept CSLC members engaged and apprised on usually confidential deliberations with stakeholders to remove or avert oppositions. CSLC members also contributed to shaping state Bills language, based upon their ongoing experiences with newly minted pertinent city and county ordinances.
Perhaps as testament to the Coalition’s strategy effectiveness, each of the following first four numbered Bills had ultimately “sailed” through the Assembly and Senate Floors without any “NO” votes, and the subsequent 3 Bills with relatively minor oppositions. The below numbers in parentheses are Senate and Assembly Floor Votes, AYES and NOES respectively, not including the Abstentions (No Vote Recorded).
AB 818 Premoistened Nonwoven Disposable Wipes. (39-0, 76-0)
Provides standardized labeling for single-use wet wipes to clearly identify what products are NOT safe to flush.
AB 881 Plastic Waste: Diversion: Recycling: Export. (37-0, 78-0)
Prohibits mixed plastic exports from being counted as “recycled” towards state waste reduction and recycling metrics.
AB 962 Reusable Beverage Containers. (38-0, 77-0)
Allows returnable glass beverage bottles to be cleaned and refilled, versus being crushed to count as recycled.
AB 1200 Plant-based Food Packaging & Cookware: Hazardous Chemicals. (36-0, 60-0)
Prohibits the sale of paper-based food packaging containing PFAS, and prohibits deceptive advertising to avoid disclosure of such toxic chemicals in cookware.
AB 1201 Plastic Products Labeling: Compostability and Biodegradability. (32-2, 79-0)
Prohibits any plastic products containing PFAS from being deceptively labeled as compostable or biodegradable.
AB 1276 Single-use Foodware Accessories and Condiments. (28-10, 58-15)
Provides that single-use foodware and condiments may be given to takeout customers ONLY upon request.
SB 343 Environmental Advertising: Recycling Symbol. (29-7, 50-3)
Will disallow manufacturers from imprinting the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on plastic items that aren’t actually recyclable.
From my perspective, NCRA’s teaming with CSLC and EcoConsult has been a welcomed relationship. There had been only one instance in which NCRA support had not aligned with AB 1454. Thus, leaving the grunt work to the experts has allowed me more time to attend to CalRecycle’s Priority Bills and to pursue other proposals. Based upon my observations and evaluation, I would rate EcoConsult 5 Stars. Having a proven champion for the environment, for a relatively modest investment, helps to level the playing field in achieving pro-sustainability legislative outcomes.
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