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The Impacts of New Plastics Legislation

As planet earth is one of our greatest concerns, what we do and how we act matters. To protect the environment, legislation in America is changing and leaning towards mandatory PCR content along with using EPR – extended producer responsibility. Producer commitments to increase PCR content, which promotes the circular economy, is supported by good policy.

So, here’s some of the legislation that keeps producers reimaging plastics.

On A Global Scale

President Biden signaled support for a Global Treaty for Plastic Pollution, a global treaty to tackle marine plastic pollution, strongly supported by environmental campaigners. Negotiations began at the U.N. Environmental Assembly in February 2022.

What States Are Doing

California is the most recognized state for its legislative attempts to advance the circular economy.

California AB 793

The bill makes California the first state in the nation to establish minimum recycled content requirements for plastic beverage containers. The bill is intended to help develop domestic markets for recycled materials, a critical step toward a circular economy. Those plastic bottles covered by the bottle deposit program will be required to contain at least 15% PCR by 2022, 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

California SB 343

The intent of SB 343 is to improve truth in labeling regarding environmental claims, including those pertaining to recyclability. This is to ensure that only materials that are recyclable are put into blue bins for recycling. Deceptive and misleading environmental claims will be subject to fines and penalties.

Washington HB 5022

Washington passed their own PCR mandate in May 2021. The mandate will take effect in 2023, when beverages other than dairy milk and wine in 187-milliliter bottles will need to include 15% PCR and trash bags will need to include 10% PCR. Other products – and higher percentages – will phase in in subsequent years.

Extended Producer Responsibility

At the beginning of 2021 nearly a dozen states were positioned to pass Extended Producer Responsibility, EPR, bills. EPR is a policy approach that assigns producers responsibility for the end-of-life of products. This can include both financial responsibility and operational responsibility, according to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Oregon SB 582B

The bill details the development of a producer responsibility program for packaging, food service ware, and printing and writing paper. Under this program, producers are required to implement a producer responsibility plan, either individually or as a producer responsibility organization (PRO).

Maine LD 1541

The bill proposes the establishment of a stewardship program, also known as a PRO, for packaging materials. Under this regulation, the state would establish a contract with a stewardship organization responsible for implementing the program.

As you can see, state legislation aims to shift responsibility onto the producer. A shift that requires producers to support recycling infrastructure and increase PCR content in their bottles. This also supports the narrative, echoed by environmental groups, calling on producers to do more to address plastic pollution which is only expected to increase with time.


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