Dawn Koepke

Assembly holds key CMTA plastics bills

By Dawn Koepke

Capitol Update, June 1, 2018 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The Assembly opted to hold two key CMTA plastics bills last week as the "House of Origin" deadline quickly approached. CMTA was specifically concerned with AB 2379 (Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica), which would have required labeling of synthetic fabrics, and AB 2779 (Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley), which would have required all single use plastic beverage containers containing water to have tethered caps.  Notably, AB 2779 was designated a CMTA Manufacturing Breaker and its failed passage is a victory for the business community. Both bills were introduced amid growing concerns associated with plastic pollution in the environment and water bodies. However, the approach taken by both bills would have had significant detrimental impacts on manufacturing in the state relative to jobs, innovation and investment.

AB 2379 would have created a meaningless label and increased liability for manufacturers and retailers – all without any measurable public or environmental benefit. The bill would have required every piece of clothing sold in California that contains more than 50 percent synthetic material to have California-only labels in two places. If the clothing articles were not compliant with the labeling requirements, enforcement could be pursued by city attorneys and district attorneys around the state. Further, the bill seemed to overlook the fact that in its attempt to address microfibers in the aquatic environment, it would be adding to the land-based waste stream as the labels or stickers required by the bill would have ultimately added to the waste stream. Finally, while research has found microfibers in the aquatic environment, the sources and solutions are still being studied and are less clear. The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB convened a microfiber summit where they identified knowledge gaps that must be filled before they recommend a solution. And while the bill’s defeat is a victory this year, proponents have suggested the battle is not over and there are talks underway in some municipalities about pursuing local ordinances to address the issue of microfibers. 

AB 2779 would have prohibited a retailer from selling or offering for sale single use plastic beverage containers “containing water” with a cap that is not tethered to or affixed to the beverage container. In an effort to narrow the bill and create a path forward, the author amended the bill late last month to include only beverage containers “containing water.” The amendments, however, did not address the concerns related to the bill. Further, while the amendments were intended to narrow the scope of the bill to apply merely to bottled water, the “containing water” language raised questions about scope and whether it would actually continue to encompass virtually all single use plastic beverage containers. Mandatory tethered caps, even under a narrowed bottled water scope, would have ultimately increased the amount of plastic in PET bottles. In doing so, the bill would have overridden manufacturers’ investment in technology to lightweight such packaging and contributed to additional plastic in commerce. 

CMTA is pleased to have been an integral part of holding these two measures, but the introduction of problematic plastics issues will certainly continue. Until then, however, rest assured CMTA is on the job and fighting back against unworkable manufacturing breakers that would impact innovation, investments and jobs in California.

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