California is facing a plastic bottle litter problem as its recycling systems continue to deteriorate, according to a report by the state’s largest recycling association.
In a report released on Monday, the California Recycling Council (CRC) said that California’s recycling systems were failing to recycle about 70% of the plastics that were produced and stored at its facilities.
The CRC said it had already identified more than 5,000 plastic bottles, and it said it is now assessing the extent of the problem, and urged people to stop using plastic bags and containers as soon as possible.
“We believe that there are very few solutions to this problem, as it is already a huge and growing problem,” the CRC’s executive director, Paul Osterholm, said in a statement.
“There are many ways to reduce the waste produced by the waste disposal industry, but the most effective solutions are not yet in place,” Osterholm added.
“In the coming weeks, we will release additional findings and recommendations as we continue to monitor the progress of our recycling and recycling recovery efforts.”
The CRC estimates that California produces more than 1.3 million plastic bottles per year, with about 1.5 million recycled from recycled plastic bottles.
Osterholm said that as California’s systems deteriorate and become less effective, it is unlikely that any new recycling and disposal facilities will be built in the state.
“The only way that we will be able to achieve sustainable recycling and recovery is if we get rid of plastic bottles,” Ostersholm said.
“It is an industry that is in transition and has not yet reached a point where it can be transitioned to a more efficient, more sustainable model.”
Osterholms statement came as a coalition of environmental groups, public health groups and others called on California to stop relying on plastic bottles as a means of recycling, and to start focusing on making recycling more cost effective.
“California’s recycling system is a crisis,” said Tom Beasley, a campaigner for the American Beverage Association’s Californians for the Environment (CalifE).
“California is a major exporter of plastic, and a huge part of its plastic waste is produced in the United States.”
The group also called on the state to do more to help the communities that rely on recycling and composting.
“People who are recycling and doing good recycling and they need to be aware of what their options are,” Beasley said.
“It is critical that they know what is happening to their plastic.”
The coalition, which includes the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Center for Food Safety, called for a complete overhaul of California’s environmental laws to allow communities to determine how much plastic they want to recycle, compost or incinerate.
“If California doesn’t have a new recycling law, the state is going to be responsible for a lot of waste in the recycling and waste management system,” said Jessica Williams, a California State Assembly member who chairs the California Assembly committee that regulates the state recycling and recycling agencies.
“They are going to have to start looking at how they are going do this more efficiently and how they can save money,” she added.
The coalition called on Governor Jerry Brown to implement a national plan to recycle and compost plastic and paper before he leaves office in January 2021.
“He needs to put forward a plan for the state and the nation to recycle plastic and move away from plastic,” Williams said.