Rigid plastic packaging regs on verge of approval

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 13, 2012 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

CalRecycle’s (http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/) January 17 meeting agenda includes the approval of the Rigid Plastic Packaging Container (RPPC) regulatory package.

The law regulates companies who produce or generate products that are held in RPPCs, which are sold or offered for sale in California. The company name that appears on the container label of a product is designated by California law as the product manufacturer.

RPPCs are containers that:

  • Are made entirely of plastic, except for lids, caps, or labels;
  • Have a capacity of at least eight fluid ounces but no more than five gallons, or the equivalent volumes;
  • Can maintain their shape while holding a product;
  • Are capable of multiple reclosures; and
  • Are sold with an attached or unattached lid or cap.

The revised regulations provide for the inclusion of containers or packages that are “designed to be folded or collapsed into a more compact form when not holding a product.” This is beyond the intent of the enacting statute that clearly states the package must have a “relatively inflexible finite shape or form.”Many heat-sealed containers will be captured under this new interpretation including electronics, hardware and toys that are contained in a plastic-sealed clamshell. CalRecycle estimates that an additional 350 million containers would be covered by the law if the revised regulations are approved.

Additionally, internally-generated scrap would no longer be considered postconsumer material even if it is used in a process other than the original manufacturing process. This would eliminate an incentive to use this material.

The revised regulations would also prohibit manufacturers from switching resins to lower the weight of their packaging to meet the 10 percent weight reduction requirement (the other major way of showing compliance is using 25 percent post consumer resin in the packaging).  CalRecycle has the ability to impose fines of up to $50,000 for noncompliance.

CalRecycle’s claim that “the impact on business will be minimal” greatly concerns CMTA. It excludes consideration of:

  1. Whether postconsumer material will be available in sufficient quantities to comply;
  2. What added costs businesses may incur to obtain the material;
  3. The cost of new machinery to manufacture containers that comply;
  4. Fiscal impact on manufacturers who could face lawsuits for voiding current contracts; and
  5. Costs to manufacturers to identify and implement alternative means for compliance for those containers that for technological reasons cannot be source reduced or contain PCR.

CMTA has submitted comments and will be at the meeting to address our concerns.

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