While some program's pay consumer money to recycle in an effort to reduce waste, California has plans to approach the waste issue a bit differently and much more aggressively. How? California plans on implementing bans on certain plastics and charging fees for the use of others.
The California Ocean Protection Council recently proposed a strategy to help reduce and hopefully eliminate marine debris. "Ocean litter - also commonly referred to as "marine debris" - is a persistent and growing problem worldwide," (An Implementation Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Ocean Litter). This debris often kills an enormous amount of marine life due to ingestion of the debris or suffocation, drowning and entanglement from the debris in the ocean. In Hawaii marine debris has increased 5-fold in the last 10 years. Of all the debris, plastic accounts for the largest amount of debris found in the ocean.
Aside from the environmental hazard waste can have on marine life (which is a huge problem) it is also hitting California in the pocket book. Besides the cost it takes California to clean up debris along streets and highways ($55 million in 2006) it is also California's concern that it could cost California tourism in the future. Tourism accounts for at least $46 billion of California's economy.
To help eliminate the problem the California Ocean Protection Council has proposed these 3 strategies:
1). A take-back program of convenience food packaging, which requires plastic packaging manufacturers and manufactures that require packaging to take back the waste packaging and dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly manner.
2). A statewide ban or fee on polystyrene food containers and on single-use products (ex: plastic shopping bags).
3). A fee on other common waste products to help cover the cost that California must spend every year to clean up the waste. I absolutely love that cigarette litter is considered as part of this plan. Though done indirectly, it is about time smokers are charged a fee for littering their butts.
To read more about the California proposal read the 28 page document, An Implementation Strategy for the California Ocean Protection Council Resolution to Reduce and Prevent Ocean Litter, issued on Nov 20, 2008 and found here.
If only the rest of the world could take such initiative. What do you think?