Gonzalez Bill to Count Only Truly Recycled Plastics Toward State Recycling Goals Heads to Governor

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (September 1, 2021) – When Californians put plastics into a blue bin, most assume it’s sent to a facility to be properly recycled –– but that’s not necessarily the case. A large percentage of plastics from California are shipped overseas where they actually can end up burned, dumped, or landfilled. Today, Assembly Bill 881 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to ensure only recycled plastics count toward California’s recycling goals heads to Governor Newsom’s desk. 

“We can’t cut corners when it comes to tackling the plastic pollution crisis. Sending our plastic waste to another country to become someone else’s problem is dangerous and only causes more harm to the planet,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “AB 881 ensures we’re being honest and transparent about our commitment to reduce plastic waste in California and meet our recycling goals.”

California is often seen as a leader in recycling, but a loophole in state law allows exported plastics to count as recycled even when they are shipped to another country even when the evidence indicates it will not be recycled. The state has a yearly goal for 75% of waste to be diverted from landfills through source reduction, recycling, and composting. AB 881 would make California’s waste management practices more transparent by reclassifying the export of mixed plastic waste as disposal, while allowing only truly recyclable plastic to continue to count toward statewide recycling goals.

Plastics exported to foreign countries often end up inadequately disposed of by incineration or dumping, leading to further harm of the environment and health of communities living nearby. A 2019 study by environmental group GAIA revealed these countries and their people will likely shoulder the economic, social and environmental costs of this pollution, possibly for generations to come.

For questions on AB 881 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov