Trash in the water

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, July 18, 2014

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) held a public workshop on July 16th to take comments on its recently released draft on statewide trash policy.

This policy could have serious ramifications for consumer product and packaging manufacturers as well as end-users, restaurants and retailers. Of particular concern is a suggested option that would incentivize local governments to adopt ordinances prohibiting the use of special “single-use consumer products.” The draft policy includes language authorizing “no more than three years of time-extensions for final compliance for each regulatory source control adopted by a municipal permittee with regulatory authority over land uses. The draft document describes regulatory source control efforts such as “bans of single-use consumer products like single-use carryout bags and expanded polystyrene foam.” Though bags and foam containers are cited as examples, the impact could extend beyond these types of packaging and beyond just plastic materials.

Local ban ordinances can have both economic and environmental impacts that should not be overlooked by SWRCB. Plastic and paper-bag bans and restrictions have been shown to have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income families. Product bans can result in higher operating costs for businesses, which can also mean higher costs for consumers…all without any demonstrated impact on reducing overall trash in local creeks and waterways. A draft report from San Francisco has shown that eliminating all food-related polystyrene would simply change the type of litter found on their streets, not reduce it.

Written comments are due no later than August 5th. CMTA will be joining an industry coalition in submitting comments, as well as submitting a separate manufacturing-specific letter. If you would like to have your thoughts incorporated, please contact Mike Rogge at mrogge@cmta.net.

Click here for more details on the “Statewide Water Quality Control Plans for Trash”: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/trash_control/

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