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California’s New Law Phases Out Single-Use Plastics—Here’s How That Benefits the Entire Country

California just passed a new law that's phasing out single-use plastics. Here's how that will benefit the entire United States.

Written by
Tehrene Firman

California always seems to be one step ahead when it comes to making moves that better the planet. Last year, the state passed a bill that banned the use of misleading recycling symbols on products that aren't actually recyclable. Now, it has set the nation's toughest rules for the reduction of plastic waste.

On June 30—the same day the U.S. Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s ability to fight climate change—California governor Gavin Newsom signed SB-54. The new law requires all single-use packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, "cutting plastic packaging by 25% in 10 years and requiring 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in the same timeframe."

"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. No more," he says. "California won’t tolerate plastic waste that’s filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe. We’re holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source."

Not only does Newsom say this is the "most significant overhaul of California's plastics and recycling policy in history," but it also "goes further than any other state on cutting plastics production at the source and continues to build a circular economy that is necessary to combat climate change."

While this might only seem like good news for the Golden State, it's good news for everyone else, too. Because California has such a large economy—the fifth-largest in the world—manufacturers don't have any choice but to change their ways in order to continue selling their products in the state. That means other states will see a positive impact as well.

"Manufacturers don’t make packaging for a single state," Dylan de Thomas, head of the policy team at The Recycling Partnership, told the New York Times. "They will make packaging recyclable elsewhere too, and you're going to have a stronger recycling system."

With everything going on in the world right now, every win for the planet matters. And this one is definitely something to celebrate.