San Jose legislator’s bill to ban tiny toiletries signed into law

Those tiny bottles of shampoo inside California hotel rooms will soon be a thing of the past after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a landmark bill crafted by a Silicon Valley legislator.

Assembly Bill 1162, authored by San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra, bans single-use plastic bottles used for personal care products in an attempt to reduce waste. The bill, which is the first of its kind in the nation, also imposes fines for non-compliance.

“I am proud to have authored legislation making California the first state in the country to accelerate more sustainable alternatives in the hotel and lodging industry by curbing our plastic consumption,” Kalra said in a statement Thursday. “Single-use products like those tiny plastic bottles commonly provided in hotels rooms represent a sizable amount of waste that can be easily eliminated through more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives.”

Large hotels have until Jan. 2023 to comply and smaller resorts, with 50 rooms or less, will have until Jan. 2024 to get rid of the tiny toiletries. Some hotel chains, including Marriott International and InterContinental Group (IHG), have already started phasing out the single-use bottles, instead placing refillable pumps inside their hotel rooms and bathrooms.

According to Kalra’s office, the statewide legislation was inspired by an ordinance in Santa Cruz County, which became the first in the state to ban small plastic bottles of personal care products. Kalra’s bill won the support of the California Hotel and Lodging Association, which is the largest state lodging industry association in the nation.

“As long-time advocates of environmental stewardship, CHLA applauds Gov. Newsom and Assemblymember Kalra for working with California hotels to make AB 1162 good for our environment and for our industry,” said Lynn S. Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the association, in a statement Thursday. “We especially appreciate Assemblymember Kalra’s recognition of the many innovative steps hotels have taken to make a more sustainable future.”

Other environmental bills aimed at reducing all single-use plastics didn’t fare so well this year in California. Two bills in both legislative houses that would have established a plan to “reduce and recycle” 75 percent of single-use plastics by 2030 failed to come to a vote last month.

Environmental activists say the proliferation of single-use plastic waste overwhelms landfills and has had a “devastating” impact on the environment. The Wall Street Journal reported “billions of half-full bottles get thrown away every year, roughly 1,000 bottles for every hotel room.” That amounts to more than 500 million tiny plastic bottles per year in 515,285 hotel rooms in California.

“We have reached a tipping point for action and more needs to be done that transitions consumers and businesses towards more sustainable alternatives,” Kalra added. “And given our state’s large presence in tourism, this will be a model for the nation.”

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