Last Updated 03 Jan 2023

Ban Plastic: Way of Improving Anti-Plastic Legislation In The USA

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In recent years, natural resources had been rapidly reduced due to people’s usage. In the resources that people wasted, most of them had harmful chemicals. These harmful substances were also an important factor affecting the environment. Therefore, In 2014-2019, California has proposed some law on plastic bags, plastic straws, and paper receipts. California believed this is more effective in reducing the damaged of harmful substances to nature and could gradually prevent the reduction of environmental resources, and this also helped us to use environmental resources more effectively to improve our lives.

California Senator Padilla, Deleon and Lara proposed a bill in February 2014 - (Senate Bill 270). This bill forbidden large enterprises from providing customers with disposable plastic bags but allowed disposable plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items with the price of 10 cents per reusable bag. These fees will set up a fund to improved the environment and protected animals. In August of the same year, the governor Brown signed this law. It became effective on July 1, 2015.

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Before the law came into effect, people began to debate and argue. Some people believed that most plastic bags have a thick layer of polyethylene. This is a chemical substance that would not be dissolved and caused animals to die from various diseases. It will also polluted the land. For example, plastic bags could cause blockages in water pipes, and some toxic substances for the plastic could affect water sources.

At the same time, in the ocean, lots of plastics became small pieces and were eaten by marine creatures, so their bodies were filled with plastic, and that suffocated them. This has led to some aquatic organisms to be extinct; however, there were some people who have another point of view. They believed even if banning plastic bags reduced plastic waste, other environmental resources such as paper bags will be overused. In fact, plastic bags produced less pollution than paper bags. If people used paper bags, they will need to cut down more trees to made it. Also, disposable plastic bags will used less land, water, CO2 than paper plastic bags.

At the voting meeting, 22 senators voted yes and 15 senators voted no. On August 29, 2014, SB 270 passed. The law came into effect on July 1, 2015 although it was forced to be voted in the November 2016 election. However, it still passed with 52% of the votes, which means that the ban of plastic bags was still valid.

On July 1, 2015, the bill will prohibited malls from automatically providing disposable plastic bags to customers. The bill also required manufacturers to start to used recycled paper bags and reusable plastic bags. The minimum fee for each plastic bag is 10 cents.

The ban on plastic was continued. In 2018, the Majority Leader Ian Calderon proposed a bill -(Assembly Bill 1884 ). This bill prohibited restaurants from providing the plastic straw to the customers unless it was a necessity for the beverage, but this proposal was not suitable for fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. At the same time, if the guest asked for a plastic straw, the restaurant could not refused the customer because of this law. This law did not affect the needs of the guests.

On the eve of the entry into force of the law, as a supporter of the proposal, Paul Koretz released some of his views. Plastics could be seen everywhere on the waterways and on the street. The amount of plastic is huge now. (Koretz) Due to the excessive use of plastic straws, the pollution of the oceans became serious. Not used plastic straws would effectively reduced plastic waste because plastic waste was not only harmful to marine animals but also affect food and water that we need. Moreover, 90% of the plastic items that we use were not recoverable.

Another supporter of the ban, Councilman Mitch O'Farrell indicated, Until 2021, manufacturers will have two years to make new products that can replace plastic straw and gave each restaurant enough time to consume existing plastic straws. (O'Farrell) However, the bill was opposed by the Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach. He believed that according to the data, what can be confirmed is there were too many plastics in the ocean but plastic straw was not the main source of plastic pollution in marine. When a lot of plastic waste entered the ocean, plastic straw did not affect the ocean that much.

At the voting meeting, 50 senators voted yes, 25 senators voted no. AB 1884 passed. The bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on January 1, 2019. Now Plastic straw is not available directly from restaurants except customers required. If they violated there will be a fine of $25 each time, but not more than $300 for each year. In the next two years, plastic straws will be phased out.

After a few days, Assemblyman Phil Ting proposes (Assembly Bill 161), the need to use electronic receipts which would replaced paper receipt to saved environment resources and reduced harmful chemicals. Unless the consumer asked for a paper receipt, the proof of purchase will be provided in the electronic form. Assemblyman Phil Ting saied paper receipts have a harmful ingredient - bisphenol A. This is a chemical that was harmful to the environment and humans, and most paper receipts would not be recycled, which will have a serious impact on the environment.

Therefore, he believed that restricting paper receipts can effectively reduced tree cutting and decreased non-recyclable harmful chemicals contained in paper receipts. Green America, a green ecology organization believed each year, the production factory will used 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water to make paper receipts. This is a huge number of Earth resources. (Green America) At the same time, Caroline Cox of the Center for Environmental Health began to research on bisphenol A. Harmful chemicals were found in receipts from many stores.

In conclusion, Proposal Assembly Bill 161 (AB 161) combines the views of SB 270 and AB 1884 to be more complete. They all decreased the pollution of the earth and reduced the waste of environmental resources by prohibiting harmful substances in plastic and paper products. Although AB161 has not been passed so far, one day in the future, I believed people will understood the material contained in the paper receipt will have a serious impact on our lives. At the same time, SB 270 and AB 1884 had given strong support to AB 161. Therefore, that’s why Assemblyman Phil Ting proposed to use AB 161 to decrease waste and harmful chemicals by paper receipts.

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