By James Luckey Jr., Publisher/Editor

Observer Group Newspapers of Southern California Inc.

With Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden asking California State Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate as Vice President the stage is now set for the 2020 Elections. While who is our President and who leads our country for the next 4 years is important during these trying times, there are also other nominees at the state and local levels who we must vote on as well. There are also different Propositions that need to be looked at and researched before November. I recently looked further into Senate Bill 54.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest SB 54 is: The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, generally regulates the disposal, management, and recycling of solid waste, including, among other solid waste, single-use plastic straws.

The Sustainable Packaging for the State of California Act of 2018 prohibits a food service facility located in a state-owned facility, operating on or acting as a concessionaire on state property, or under contract to provide food service to a state agency from dispensing prepared food using a type of food service packaging unless the type of food service packaging is on a list that the department publishes and maintains on its internet website that contains types of approved food service packaging that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Pollution has always been a major issue in the state of California. I think it is pretty safe to say we mostly all can agree there.These two bills, Senate 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, in theory plan to eliminate 75% of single-use plastic containers by the year 2030. From that, the idea is that the state clog up of unmarketable plastics will generally be eliminated and would start the groundwork to a new age of recycling in California. The idea of the bill has been a response from China and other countries around the world being more selective about the scrap it accepts from California and the rest of the USA.

With being an owner and operator of Luckey Vending, my own Vending business, I have definitely been affected by things such as the aluminum shortage. I have also always been a big supporter of recycling and not one for liter or pollution. With China and other countries banning certain scrap imports, we must adapt and make some changes. For this reason, and others I agree with Senate Bill 54.

What I cannot agree with is the the current plans in place with bill 54. This bill, like many others, have to be looked at differently with the US going through, and still under a global pandemic. I know how it feels to own and manage multiple minority small businesses during a time like this. I have talked to and witnessed first hand many small family owned restaurants who have already had to make drastic shifts in their business models just to keep the doors open. I think about my people in my communities who would be affected most by Bill 54 during these already trying times. These restaurant owners already can not have customers dine in so takeout food containers are vital to keeping these already struggling businesses open to serve their customers. Inside this bill is a proposed $50,000 daily fine on businesses who fail to comply with the relevant waste reduction standards. During a time when many of these businesses had to do things like lay off employees and hope to receive government aid with programs like PPP that many of these minority owned businesses for one reason or another weren’t able to receive. There is no way they would be able to take a one day hit of a 50k fine let alone multiple fines at that amount. 

While I like the idea of trying to fix a broken recycling system and for me and my Vending business personally I may benefit more from a vote of yes to this bill I would like to believe I am a man of the people, my people, and I don’t believe the plans in place for bill 54 would help my people as currently constructed. I’m not sure this bill took people like me in consideration pre COVID-19 pandemic and I can almost currently say it didn’t take my people into consideration during this pandemic. I want to see this bill looked at with the best interest of all Californians and not causing more obstacles and harm for communities of color.