Compost Week Highlights Recycling Hypocrisy

Small Business Owner in Los Angeles County and Rosemead School District Member, Board of Trustees

There is a special brand of irony amid all the recent Compost Week hoopla at the State Capitol: Californians Against Waste finds itself sponsoring of two bills that are completely at odds with one another in a move that some insiders are considering to be a calculated attempt to secure a fundraising push within the environmental community.

AB 1826 by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro seeks to establish a recycling program for organic waste such as yard trimmings, food scraps, waxed cardboard, frozen/refrigerated food boxes, paper bags and waxed paper.  According to the author, AB 1826 would reduce the impact on landfills and diminish greenhouse gases by mandating that businesses, apartment owners, and government agencies establish an organic waste recycling program.

This is a commendable goal.

SB 270 by Senator Alex Padilla seeks to ban the plastic bags that most Californians receive from their local grocery stores, and replace them with much larger non-recyclable plastic bags. If that doesn’t seem to add up, also consider that this legislation will impose a fee of at least 10 cents on the use of recyclable, compostable paper bags – with no price cap. The sky is the limit on this one.

The only way to properly recycle the plastic bags proposed by SB 270 is by having each consumer take them to a special recycling station that currently don’t exist. There’s little guarantee such a facility would attract bags for recycling. In fact, the idea is highly dubious. After all, CAW and other groups have been complaining for years about the failure of a state mandated plastic bag recycling program at grocery stores, which are about as convenient as it gets for consumers.

This situation is further complicated by the fact that the author and sponsor of SB 270 purposely wants to discourage the public from using recyclable paper bags by having grocery store owners impose a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag.

So this begs the question: How can Californians Against Waste sponsor a bill aimed at reducing landfills by improving recycling programs and support legislation that can only be characterized as the antithesis of the former by encouraging the use of bags that cannot be placed in our blue recycling bins?

Assemblymember Chesbro’s Natural Resources Committee will have an opportunity on Wednesday to ask Mark Murray, CAW’s executive director the following: Is your goal to make it easier to recycle per Chesbro’s AB 1826, or is it to discourage the use of recyclable materials as SB 270 is scheduled to be heard in this committee?

You can’t have it both ways.

As we wrap-up Compost Week with an eye for making California a better place through improvement of our recycling programs, we need to also watch out for trash in the gutter in the form of SB 270.

John Quintanilla is a small business owner in Los Angeles County and Rosemead School District Member, Board of Trustees

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