Groups See Growing Interest in Plastic Recycled Content Laws

One thing that is the subject of broad consensus in the plastic waste debate – from the American Chemistry Council’s policy papers to the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act in Congress – is that the United States needs more government mandates for recycled content.

Such laws, thought to be, would support recycled plastic markets, help cities pay for better curbside collection and be obvious to help make plastics more circular.

But Mark Murray, a 30-year veteran of working on several California recycled plastic content laws, warns: Think carefully to enforce policies.

“We’ve had successes, we’ve had failures and we’ve had a lot of false starts,” said Murray, who heads the Sacramento-based environmental group Californians Against Waste.

He spoke in a webinar Jan. 6 with government and industry officials on how to craft effective recycled content laws, a policy area that he and other panelists said sparks much more. of interest to state governments.

One of its main arguments to the more than 600 webinar participants is that the industry must take recycled content in plastic products seriously, and to be successful any new law should have set ambitious goals that spur the development of the industry. Marlet.

He pointed to a 2020 California law requiring recycled content in plastic beverage bottles, starting at 15% this year and rising to 50% by 2030, with financial penalties of 20 cents per pound on the lack of recycled materials for companies that do not comply. .

“My message to the beverage industry is, I think you’re in a time of recycling or dying,” Murray said. “We are seeing the public support, the will of policy makers to ban plastic products. We are seeing the will to do so within one, two or three years from the date of implementation of these policies.”

He said previous laws passed in California, including what is known as the 1990’s RPPC Act, have not proven to be effective because they had too many exemptions, such as the food container exemption, and not enough exemptions. ‘application.

“The classic example of this was the California Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Recycling Act, which is still in effect, but I think at this point it doesn’t add any value to recycling, to developing the market, recycling funding and producer responsibility, ”Murray said.

Some other states are also considering recycled content for plastic packaging.

Washington state passed a law requiring it last year, New Jersey lawmakers are seriously considering their own version, and legislation for national terms has been introduced to Congress.

In addition, the idea is gaining more support within the industry. The CCA released a policy proposal last year that supported a 30% recycled content requirement for plastic packaging by 2030.

And the groups that organize the webinar, the Northeast Recycling Council and the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association, unveiled their own model of national legislation for recycled content in plastic products on Jan.4 and accept public comment until Feb.11.

“Among the 11 northeastern states [in NERC] There is a great deal of interest in recycled content laws, including states that have seen laws filed in recent years, ”said Lynn Rubinstein, executive director of NERC. “With increasing international attention to the plastics and plastics markets, it seems reasonable to anticipate that states will consider this route.”

So there is clearly a lot of interest in the idea.

But Murray said not all states will embrace California’s ambitious policy, and he said policy will likely play a bigger role than policy design.

“Frankly, the design of the policy is unlikely to be an obstacle to its implementation,” he said. “I think we all recognize that politics, political will, is going to be the likely barrier.”

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