Governor Newsom signed AB 962 on October 5, 2021. The Surfrider Foundation worked closely with the bill co-sponsors, allies, and coalitions to advocate for this legislation through our California chapters and powerful grassroots activist network.
The Problem: Currently, manufacturers liberally use the chasing-arrows symbol even if their products are not truly recyclable to get consumers to purchase their goods. Greenwashing has led to well-meaning consumers recycling much of their plastic waste to the detriment of the recycling stream. This has led to mass confusion and the contamination of the recycling stream which ends up being costly to sort and capture the truly recyclable materials.
In California, less than 15 percent of single-use plastic is recycled, despite robust recycling programs and decades of public education efforts. Unfortunately, the vast majority of single-use plastics are landfilled, incinerated, or end up in the environment. Although there are numerous factors at play, this can be ultimately attributed to the drop in the market for recycled material and the low cost of virgin petroleum to make plastic products.
The Solution: SB 343 helps end consumer confusion about which material is suitable for the blue bin, reduces contamination, lowers waste volume, and improves recycling rates. The measure expands the existing “Truth in Environmental Advertising” law that prohibits the use of the word “recyclable” on unrecyclable products to include the use of the chasing-arrows symbol or any other suggestion that a material is recyclable unless the material is actually recyclable in most California communities and is routinely sold to manufacturers to make new products.