Assembly bill AB 521 introduced this past February aims to clean up marine debris and shift the cost of controlling pollution to the responsibility of the manufacturers who produce it. Introduced by assemblymen Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), the bill declares plans to identify the products that contribute most to plastic ocean trash, set goals for recycling more of them, and reduce the litter they create.
Americans generate more waste than any other country in the world but recycle far less than other developed nations. Post-consumer packaging materials comprise the largest category of solid waste, and U.S. taxpayers pay for its management.
Extended producer responsibility, or EPR, shifts the responsibility for post-consumer waste from taxpayers and municipal governments to the companies that produce the packaging, creating incentives for producers to reduce the amount of packaging they create, increasing packaging recycling rates, providing revenue to improve recycling systems, and reducing carbon and energy use.
Plastic pollution off the northwest coast of North America is reaching the level of the notoriously polluted North Sea, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.
The study, published online in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, examined stomach contents of beached northern fulmars on the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and the states of Washington and Oregon, U.S.A.
“Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans,” says Stephanie Avery-Gomm, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in UBC’s Department of Zoology. “Their stomach content provides a ‘snapshot’ sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean.”