“A lot of people don’t understand that our plastics crisis is our climate crisis,” Alexis Jackson, ocean policy and plastics lead at the Nature Conservancy, told me. “The beauty of this legislation is that it actually sets a blueprint that other states and nations can follow.”
Newsom signed the bill right at the deadline to avoid a fall ballot initiative that would have had similar requirements. The legislation gives plastics makers an extra two years to comply, among other differences. As has happened before in the State Capitol, the threat of an outside initiative was enough to bring industry groups to the table to negotiate the deal.
Today I’ll break down what you need to know about the new law:
What exactly does the law mandate?
The 50-plus-page legislation aims to reduce the amount of plastic created and increase recycling rates in California. Here are some of the key tenets:
By 2032, plastic producers must reduce the amount of plastic in packaging by 25 percent. Those products include things like shampoo bottles, food wrappers, takeaway cups and bubble wrap.
The reduction can be achieved in multiple ways: reducing package sizing, switching to a different material or making the products reusable.
All single-use packaging, including paper and metals, has to be recyclable or compostable by 2032. The law also mandates that California raise its recycling rate for all plastic products to 65 percent by 2032.
The law shifts the costs of recycling infrastructure, recycling plants, and collection and sorting facilities to packaging manufacturers and away from taxpayers, who currently foot the bill.
As my colleague Winston Choi-Schagrin reported, Maine and Oregon were the first in the country to pass such requirements, known as producer-responsibility laws.
Plastics manufacturers must pay $5 billion into a fund over the next 10 years that would mitigate the effects of plastic pollution on the environment and human health, primarily in low-income communities.
What effect is the law expected to have?
Any reduction in plastics creation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the amount of waste ending up in landfills. The Ocean Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit group that helped draft California’s law, estimated the legislation would eliminate 23 million tons of plastic in the next 10 years.
“We know that to solve our plastic pollution crisis, we need to make less plastic and reuse more of the plastic we do have,” Anja Brandon, a policy analyst at the Ocean Conservancy, told The Times. “This is the first bill in the country to tackle both issues.”
Plus, because of California’s size, the law could have ripple effects.
“Manufacturers don’t make packaging for a single state,” Dylan de Thomas, head of the policy team at the Recycling Partnership, told The Times. “They will make packaging recyclable elsewhere too, and you are going to have a stronger recycling system.”
Also last month, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it would phase out the sale of single-use plastic products in national parks and other public lands by 2032.
California isn’t banning single-use plastic products outright, instead requiring that they be recyclable and contain less plastic. But the scope of the state’s law — and its many, many parts — makes it “a huge deal,” Jackson, of the Nature Conservancy, said.
“We did something that the world thought was impossible,” she told me. “There is no such thing as a perfect policy, but I think this bill still goes farther than any plastics policy we’ve seen.”
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Muriel Kaplan, who recommends a safari park in Sonoma County:
“A favorite California place of ours was discovered shortly after we returned from an African safari for our honeymoon. Safari West sounded like a good follow-up for our sparkling memories of gorgeous elephants, prides of lions with cubs.
Safari West is in Santa Rosa, in the same county well known for wine tasting. But this is a different world. Safari West has a truck tour through acres of herds of huge but docile wildlife, a walk through an aviary with splendid feathered creatures, including a huge blue heron that accompanied us on our guided walking tour but turned back when we got to the exit, knowing that wasn’t on his agenda. And, oh, the giraffes!
We arrived at Safari West in late afternoon, had a great outdoor buffet dinner, then stayed overnight in a luxury safari tent on the hill, within hearing distance of overnight discussion among the animals, in the otherwise silent night. In the morning we had a hearty breakfast outdoors, went on our multi-hour, knowledgeably guided safari in an open truck, gasping at and photographing the nearby animals. An outdoor lunch followed, and our stay was complete. We felt as if we had been back in Africa, and came home jet-lagged.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
California is having a culinary moment across the Atlantic.
In London, every month seems to bring a new restaurant, chef or menu imported from Los Angeles or San Francisco, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The Los Angeles cooks Nancy Silverton of Mozza and Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market recently opened locations in London. Eggslut, which began as a food truck, now has three cafes in London. A restaurant in the city’s financial district lures patrons with two words — Malibu Kitchen — before offering “superfood salads, cured fish and meat, and plant-based dishes.”
Victor Garvey, head chef and owner of London restaurant SOLA, told The Times: “Californian food is an ethos.” A Michelin-starred restaurant in the city’s Soho neighborhood, SOLA serves wine from Sonoma County and ice cream flavored with pistachios from the San Joaquin Valley.
“A brightness, lightness and freshness,” Garvey said. “We want to bring that to Europe.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Relationship term of endearment (4 letters).
Jack Kramer contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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