California lawmakers are giving serious consideration to first-in-the-nation legislation that would force online retailers to reduce their single-use plastics packaging. A version of their plan passed the state Assembly in May, on a 41-26 vote, and is now making its way through the state Senate.
The legislation currently calls for unspecified reductions in the amount of single-use plastic packaging in e-commerce by 2030. Lawmakers are trying to hash out details ahead of an August 30 deadline for a final vote in this year's legislative session.
Supporters say the growth in online shopping prompts the legislation.
"Plastic packaging like air pillows, bubble wrap and mailing envelopes are made of material designed to last forever but are discarded after brief use," said Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Pacific policy and communications manager at the environmental group Oceana. "This makes them particularly problematic, and most plastic packaging ends up in landfills, incinerated or polluting the environment and harming wildlife."
The legislation is sponsored by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, who introduced a stricter version in 2021 that would have banned single-use plastic shipping envelopes and expanded polystyrene packaging materials starting in 2023. That proposal ended up dying on the floor of the Assembly.
In February, Friedman reintroduced a strict version that would have banned plastic envelopes, cushioning materials and void fill in online retail shipments starting in 2024, as well as reinstating in-store recycling for plastic bags. But that bill was changed in June in the state Senate, into the current version that calls for an unspecified level of cuts in plastic packaging use by online retailers selling into the state by 2030.