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Top 5 Benefits of AB 521

Brant Olson

Posted May 9, 2013

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Plastic Trash Clogs the LA River

Last week, California’s State Assembly took its first steps toward adopting a groundbreaking new law to help keep plastic trash out of our oceans by creating a marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program out of the Natural Resources Committee. AB 521 encourages industry to reduce the amount of plastic it produces (especially single-use packaging), and share the costs of cleaning up what remains. Now, it’s up to the 17 members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee to decide whether the bill should be put to a vote of the full chamber, and it's going to be close. 

So without further ado, here are NRDC's top five benefits of AB 521: 

  1. AB 521 saves CA taxpayers money. Last year, the EPA surveyed 43 of California's coastal communities and found that they are spending more than $420 million every year to control litter and reduce marine debris--that's money down the drain. AB521 would help to free up these wasted taxpayer dollars by establishing incentive-based standards for producers to cut marine plastic pollution 75% by 2020, and 95% by 2025.
  2. AB 521 promotes CA businesses. Government data compiled by the Monterey Institute for International Studies shows that California's ocean and coastal tourism and leisure industries generated $92 Billion in GDP for the state in 2010 and supported 1.9 million jobs. Reversing the trend on increasing plastic trash on our beaches and in our oceans will keep those tourists coming back for more. 
  3. AB 521 reduces harm to wildlife. Last year the Convention on Biological Diversity documented at least 663 marine species impacted by marine litter through entanglement and ingestion—a two-thirds increase from 1998. California won't solve this problem alone, but we can show the rest of the world how to do it. 
  4. AB 521 reduces waste. In its latest report on the topic in 2008, CalRECYCLE estimated that Californians dump 3.8 million tons of plastic into state landfills every year--plastic that could be recycled or avoided all together. AB 521 rewards companies that work with state and local governments to reduce this needless burden on our communities. 
  5. Voters love it. A statewide poll of Californians by the PPIC in 2006 showed that 50% of Californians think ocean and beach pollution along the California coast is a "big problem" and that another 35% think it's at least "somewhat of a problem." No matter your political persuasion, keeping persistent plastic pollution out of our marine environment improves everybody's quality of life. 

Everybody wins when we keep plastic trash out of our oceans and rivers!


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