Mike Rogge

Life of a plastic bottle – recycled content

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, June 16, 2016 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Assembly Member Rich Gordon (D-San Jose) introduced a bill, AB 2530, in February to require a manufacturer of a beverage sold in a plastic container in California to clearly indicate through labeling the average percentage of postconsumer recycled content in the beverage container, subject to certification by a third party laboratory. Since that time, the bill has changed in a number of ways.

In April it was modified to eliminate the reference to laboratory certification, presumably because a laboratory cannot ascertain analytically how much of the content was from postconsumer content. Instead, the bill was amended to require the manufacturer to use one or more of several specified methods of determining the average percentage of postconsumer recycled content for its label:

1. The average percentage of postconsumer recycled content in all plastic beverage containers sold by the manufacturer’s line in the state during the previous year.

2. The average percentage of postconsumer recycled content in a specified type of beverage container sold by the manufacturer in the state from the product line that carries the claim.

3. Any other reasonable methodology for determining minimum postconsumer recycled content for a claim that is consistent with the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims  (16 C.F.R. Part 260).

Manufacturers would still have significant costs and difficulty in maintaining accurate records of how much recycled material they used and which lots of product were sold in California. It appears questionable if the content figures reported would really be meaningfully used by consumers in making their purchases.

The bill put CalEPA’s Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in charge of overseeing the program.

On June 1, AB 2530 was again amended in order to get it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. (A cost to the State of $400,000 to $600,00 had been placed on it for the administration of the program.) The amendments removed the onerous provision that would require a postconsumer label and took CalRecycle out of the program except to the extent that the postconsumer plastic content would be reported by the manufacturer to the Department each year for the previous year by March 1, beginning in 2018. The amendments also removed any enforcement mechanism in the bill. With these changes the bill was forwarded to the Assembly Floor, approved and passed on to the Senate.

The bill was again amended on June15, eliminating the previously specified reporting mechanisms and third party validation and now simply requiring reporting of “the amount of virgin plastic and postconsumer recycled plastic” used in the previous year for the products sold in California. While there is no enforcement mechanism, there is a requirement that reports submitted to CalRecycle must be filed under penalty of perjury. CalRecycle is required to post the submitted postconsumer content figures on their website.

AB 2530 is scheduled to be heard in front of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee Resources Committee on June 29th. CMTA has been a member of a large coalition opposing this bill. AB 2530 imparts cost and liability on a manufacturer for negligible benefit to the public and creates a California-only requirement.

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