Legislative Updates

Zero Waste Sonoma | September 10, 2021

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the California State Assembly and Senate, with many new bills aimed at reducing waste and environmental toxins being passed and are now heading to the Governor’s office for signature! And two new bills were signed into law!

Below is a brief overview:

NEW LAW! AB 332: Treated Wood Waste. SIGNED INTO LAW 8/31/21

AB 332 restores the Alternative Management Standards (AMS) for treated wood waste and variances are no longer needed for disposal facilities, handlers, and generators of treated wood waste.

The AMS had been in effect for nearly 15 years before the program expired on Jan. 1, 2021, creating significant difficulties for everyone needing to dispose of pressure-treated wood. The passing of AB 332 should restore disposal options and disposal pricing of treated wood waste back to normal for the public and will make collection easier for disposal facilities and handlers.

For further information on the disposal of treated wood waste going forward, visit the DTSC website at https://dtsc.ca.gov/toxics-in-products/treated-wood-waste

NEW LAW: AJR-4, Basel Convention: ratification. SIGNED INTO LAW 7/15/21

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (1989) was signed but never ratified by the United States.

Since China banned the import of plastic waste, much of the plastic waste collected for recycling in the United States is sent to mismanaged, highly polluting recycling operations in south and southeast Asia, where it is often dumped and burned rather than recycled safely.

The Basel Convention has recently sought to address this problem and has become a vital instrument in the war against global plastic waste pollution when, in May 2019, it was amended to include mixed and contaminated plastic waste shipments within its control procedure. This measure declares California to be in favor of the United States’ ratification of the Basel Convention at the earliest opportunity and would requests the Biden Administration to accomplish this ratification as a matter of urgency.


AB 1200: BAN on Forever Chemicals - PFAS

To help reduce environment contamination, the CA State Assembly passed AB 1200 which prohibits the use of “forever chemicals,” known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in food packaging.

The bill was recently passed by the State Senate – and has gone to the Governor for signature!


PFAS are a class of roughly 9,000 man-made chemicals linked to health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid disease and vaccine interference. They are commonly added to food wrappers and containers to prevent grease and other liquids from leaking through.

The term “forever chemicals” refers to their resistance to breaking down, making them persistent in the environment and human body. We’re eating PFAS with our meals when they come in food containers coated with these harmful substances.

In addition, when those containers are composted, the environmental impacts are far-reaching with

PFAS entering the food chain when the compost is applied to agricultural soil used to grow crops. Those hazardous chemicals also end up in drinking water and in our air.

CONGRATS TO McDonalds, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s who are already phasing out PFAS-laced wrappers, boxes and the like, or have pledged to do so.

Learn More About AB 1200

Link to AB 1200 Text

AB 1201 Better Composting Standards Act

Companies have been labeling products as “compostable” when they’re actually not. But that practice could soon end because of higher composting standards under a bill approved by the Legislature and sent to the Governor late yesterday. AB 1201, the Better Composting Standards Act by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), tightens the rules on what can be identified as compostable to prevent contamination, which threatens composting programs.

Learn More About AB 1201

Link to AB 1201 Text

AB-652: Product Safety for Juvenile Products

This bill will, on and after July 1, 2023, prohibit a person, including a manufacturer, from selling or distributing in commerce in this state any new, not previously owned, juvenile product, as defined, that contains intentionally added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as defined. The bill requires manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing PFAS chemicals in a juvenile product.

Link to AB-652 Text

SB 343: Truth in Environmental Labeling

Also headed to the Governor’s desk for signature in October is SB 343 which ensures truth in labeling about which materials are suitable for the recycling bin.

Currently, no law prohibits producers from using the well-known chasing-arrows symbol on non-recyclable materials, and as a result, some producers use the symbol on products that are not truly recyclable.

When consumers place non-recyclable items into recycling bins, those items contaminate the truly recyclable items. It is extremely expensive to sort out these contaminants, and the costs get passed back to the residents through increasing garbage rates. This bill reduces contamination, and therefore costs, statewide.

Read New York Times Article on SB 343

Link to SB 343 Text

AB 881: Mixed Plastics Export

The California legislature has passed AB 881, legislation designed to ensure that only plastics that are actually recycled will count toward California’s recycling goals. According to a news release from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who authored the legislation, a large percentage of plastics from California are shipped overseas where they actually can end up burned, dumped or landfilled.

This bill would make the export out of the country of a mixture of plastic wastes “disposal” for purposes of the act, unless the mixture includes only certain plastics destined for separate recycling and satisfies other specified requirements, in which case that export would constitute diversion through recycling.

AB 881 is intended to make California’s waste management practices more transparent by reclassifying the export of mixed plastic waste as disposal while allowing only truly recyclable plastic to continue to count toward statewide recycling goals.

Learn More About AB 881

Link to AB 881 Text

AB 1276: Single-use foodware accessories and standard condiments.

AB 1276 builds on California’s existing efforts to combat waste from single-use items. Every year in the United States, an estimated 561 billion disposable foodware items are used, resulting in a whopping 4.9 million tons of waste. Unused food accessories including utensils, straws, napkins, condiment packages, and otherwise clog landfills, complicate recycling, and pollute streets and waterways in our communities.

Providing food and beverage accessories only upon request to customers will significantly reduce unnecessary waste and save businesses and local governments money. California restaurants that have voluntarily made the transition to a combination of by request and reusable foodware have been proven to save between $3,000 and $21,000 per year, while reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Learn More About AB 1276

Link to AB 1276 Text

AB 962: California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act: reusable beverage containers.

Pave the way for returnable beverage bottle systems in California by allowing returnable (“refillable”) bottles to flow through the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. Rather than being crushed for recycling, the bottles can be preserved to be washed and refilled by beverage producers - simultaneously creating jobs and reducing waste.

Learn More About AB 962

Link to AB 962 Text