Capitol Alert

California bill would require tether between plastic bottles and their caps

A worker at rePlanet recycling center in North Sacramento dumps plastic bottles into a bin on June 22, 2016.
A worker at rePlanet recycling center in North Sacramento dumps plastic bottles into a bin on June 22, 2016. The Sacramento Bee file

Raising concerns about the environmental damage caused by stray bottle caps, one California lawmaker is seeking to change how plastic water and soda bottles are made.

Assembly Bill 319, introduced this week by Assemblyman Mark Stone, would prohibit retailers, by 2020, from selling beverages in bottles with a cap that is not tethered to the container. The Scotts Valley Democrat said bottle caps are one of the most frequent items found at annual beach and watershed clean-ups, threatening wildlife that thinks they are food and costing local communities millions of dollars to address the plastic debris.

“By requiring that those lids stay attached to the plastic bottles that consumers use, we can ensure that they are part of California’s successful recycling programs and not in landfills or the environment,” Stone said. “Californians have been very clear about their desire to protect our communities from plastic pollution, and AB 319 is a clear step in pursuing that intent.”

The Legislature has taken other steps in the past few years to address plastic pollution, passing a statewide bag ban and prohibiting the use of exfoliating “microbeads” in cosmetics.

But AB 319 could face a significant challenge from the influential beverage industry, which has aggressively blocked a string of recent bills that threatened its bottom line, including efforts to tax soda and put warning labels on sugary drinks.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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