Bill to Repair and Rebuild California’s Roads Using Excessive Advances on Plastic Waste in the Senate

The California Senate Committee on Transportation today unanimously approved Senate Draft 580 by Senator Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, to commission the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to conduct a study to assess feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and environmental benefits over the life cycle of recycled plastics in asphalt used in the construction and repair of a state road or highway. The idea for SB 580 was brought to Sen. Hueso by students from Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista.

“It’s really worth knowing that a small pebble we threw in the pond at a meeting with Senator Hueso over two years ago has turned into a bill that could change the world of plastic recycling,” said Bryce Garrod , President of the Bonita Vista High School Progressive Club. “As they say,” as California goes, so does the rest of the country. “It would be very humbling if this process worked and a group of high school kids could say,” Hey, we’ve made a difference in our world. “

Before 2018, the state sent two-thirds of its recyclable materials to China. After the Chinese government began restricting its recyclable imports, it announced that it would ban almost all imports of plastic waste in 2018. This shift has resulted in market losses and an excess of non-recycled plastic in California that is now either incinerated or in a landfill.

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“As a leader in environmental justice, California is uniquely positioned to innovate the transportation industry by introducing new technologies that could revolutionize the way we look at recycled plastic,” said Sen. Hueso. “This bill would also address two of the most widespread problems facing our state – reducing our plastic waste and repairing our roads.”

Communities around the world have carried out similar projects to tackle plastic pollution. In 2012, Vancouver, Canada reported that they were incorporating blue box plastic waste as an asphalt wax additive. In 2015, the Dutch city of Rotterdam announced its plan to manufacture recycled plastic segments for road construction in a factory. And in 2019, the University of California at San Diego had the first street in the US with recycled plastics in their asphalt mix on campus.

SB 580 will next be reviewed by the Senate Funds Committee.

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