Last week, California passed a law, known as SB-54, that will significantly reduce single-use plastic packaging and utensils in the state over the next decade. According to the new landmark law, disposable plastic packaging and foodware are required to be reduced by 25% based on both weight and “plastic component source”.
It's interesting to note that the law shifts responsibility to plastic producers. The state will require plastic makers to foot the bill for the costs of recycling infrastructure, recycling plants, and collection and sorting facilities.
However, OMAO views the shift towards recycling to be challenging. Plastic recycling is simply difficult technologically. Traditional plastics have many different types. Each type has unique properties that affect its color, shape, structure, and melting point. That makes it challenging to accurately sort plastic into different categories. Also, consumers don't recycle much in practice. In 2021, Americans recycled only about 5% of their plastic waste, a decline from the high of 9.5% in 2014, according to an EPA report.
We believe that bioplastics are a better solution to the problem of plastic waste. Biopolymers are produced from biological feedstocks (in Polyhydroxyalkanoate's case, vegetable oil). PHA material would break down naturally in the environment, meaning the world could continue to produce large amounts of plastics without having to worry about what happens to them at the end of their lives.
Consumers will continue to demand convenience. We should not stop people from using single-use straws, We should provide something better to use.