Senate Environmental Quality Committee approves Wieckowski resolution on plastic waste

July 3, 2019

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Environmental Quality Committee today approved Senate Resolution 47 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) with bipartisan support to urge the United States to ratify the Basel Convention, an international treaty to reduce the movement of hazardous waste and mixed plastic waste. 

“The growing patch of plastic pollution in the ocean and the amount of illegal dumping and burning of waste is a global problem that must be confronted,” said Wieckowski, chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation.  “With China and other nations banning the import of some plastics, plastic-coated papers and other recyclables, California and the rest of the United States, must do better in reducing waste and implementing more producer responsibility recycling policies. By joining this international treaty, we will have a seat at the table and more input in strengthening accountability and transparency over the transport of international waste.”

The Basel Convention includes 187 nations. It consists of protocols for prior informed consent between nations who are sending and receiving waste and recyclable materials. The U.S. Senate gave consent to ratification in the early 1990s, but the House of Representatives failed to restrict the import and export of hazardous waste and the State Department was therefore unable to finalize the ratification.

“It’s clear that mixed plastic waste exported from the United States is resulting in plastic pollution in the developing world and contributing to ocean pollution,” said Mark Murray of the environmental group Californians Against Waste.  “While most of the world has signed the Basel Treaty banning this practice, the United States has failed to do so.  Senator Wieckowski’s SR 47 would add California’s voice in support of urging ratification of the Basel Convention.”  

In addition to Californians Against Waste, SR 47 is also supported by StopWaste, the California Waste and Recycling Association, California Product Stewardship Council, Consumer Watchdog, National Product Stewardship Council and TOMRA.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes parts of southern Alameda County and Santa Clara County.