NOVEMBER 2011

California to expand jobs and recycling with new legislation

Governor Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation establishing the most ambitious recycling goal in the nation for California, at the same time enacting incentives aimed at increasing recycled material processing and manufacturing in-state. Together, this strategy is aimed at creating more than 60,000 green jobs in the state over the next 8 years.

Assembly Bill 341 by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) sets a 75 percent recycling goal for California by 2020 – the most ambitious in the nation. Additionally, the measure requires every commercial business, institution and apartment building to implement recycling programs.

Assembly Bill 1149 by Assembly Member Rich Gordon (D – Menlo Park) will provide market-based incentives of $10 to $20 million annually to processors and manufacturers of recycled plastic.

Chesbro’s AB 341 builds on the success of AB 939, the California Integrated Waste Management Act passed in 1989. The legislation set ambitious recycling targets and helped develop California’s extensive recycling infrastructure. AB 341 expands on that success by requiring businesses, institutions and apartment buildings to subscribe to recycling service and establishing a new statewide goal of source reducing, recycling or composting 75 percent of the waste we generate by 2020.

Assembly Member Gordon’s AB 1149 takes a market-based approach to ensuring that California realizes that full economic as well as environmental benefit of our recycling efforts.

“When we ship used soda and water bottles to China, we are exporting thousands of jobs overseas that could just as readily exist in California if the appropriate investments were set up to support it,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee that oversees all natural resource agencies. “AB 1149 builds on the success of the Plastic Market Development program and will create and support thousands of jobs while helping our environment.”

Under the Bottle Bill program, Californians annually collect about 500 million pounds of plastic beverage containers for recycling. Historically, more than 80 percent of these containers have been shipped overseas for processing and recycling into new products.

“California has been the banana republic to China,” said Murray. “We dutifully clean up and collect billions of used soda and water bottles and ship them off to China at a loss. They add labor and value processing them into the polyester clothing and accessories that they sell back to us at Target and Banana Republic.”

“Today, the plastic market program directly supports more than 750 jobs. But we are collecting enough plastic to support 4 to 5 times that many jobs. AB 1149 creates the incentives and the potential for hundreds, if not thousands of new jobs.”

Both bills were sponsored by the environmental group Californians Against Waste and ultimately had broad support from recyclers, reclaimers, waste haulers, local governments, plastic product manufacturers, retailers, beverage industry and environmental groups.