Distributive policy

What are the current political priorities at the national and state levels?

As part of its efforts to harmonize legislation and industry practices, the APR has urged the Federal Trade Commission to update its so-called “green guides”. | DCStockPhotography/Shutterstock

A federal bottle bill, broader producer responsibility bills, and the push for single-use plastics are all in the future of plastics legislation, policy experts predicted. ‘industry.

The information came during the “Legislative Update on Plastics Recycling”, an association of plastic recyclers (APR) online seminar held on October 19. The panelists were Anna Karakitsos, director of the policy resolution group at Bracewell; Bruce Magnani, vice president and partner at Houston Magnani and Associates; and Kate Eagles, program director at APR.

Federal Updates

Karakitsos is the RPA’s legislative representation at the federal level, and she said that in recent months most recycling activity has come from federal agencies as Congress has turned its attention to the election.

For example, the State Department is working on the United Nations program draft treaty on plastic pollution, which would be a legally binding instrument, and the US EPA has developed a national strategy for recycling and flesh out two new grant programs, the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling program and the Recycling Education and Outreach program.

Karakitsos said it is also following steps taken by the General Services Administration and the Ministry of the Interior to reduce the purchase and distribution of single-use plastics within government systems.

“This was an important notice that the RPA needed to be involved in, as the general premise of the proposal assumed that banning certain plastic products from the broader government was a no-brainer,” Karakitsos said. “Obviously this is not a no-brainer, so we made sure our comments focused on the need to bring reclaimed plastics into the mainstream to promote an efficient and robust recycling system.”

Additionally, APR has encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to update its “green guides,” she added.

Regarding bills introduced in the first half of 2022, Karakitsos said it is monitoring two bills passed by the Senate on July 28: S 3742, the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022 , a pilot grant program to improve recycling accessibility, and S 3743, the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act, which would require the EPA administrator to improve recycling and composting programs.

Both received bipartisan support but did not move forward, and Karakitsos said if they continue to languish they will need to be reintroduced in next year’s new legislative session.

Finally, Karakitsos said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is drafting a nationwide bottle bill, likely to be introduced within the first 100 days of the next session of Congress.

California Updates

Magnani is the APR’s legislative representation in California, and he has been focused on developing rules, he said, particularly the extended producer responsibility bill, CS54and bottle return expansion, SB 1013.

“There are great opportunities within SB 54. Not everything should be seen as an obstacle or a difficulty,” he said.

Overall, it tracked over 70 bills in 2022, and some stand out with SB 54 and SB 1013 failed FY 2026who would have decreed a ban on packaging/bags for online retailers, the veto AB 2784 on thermoforms and AB 1046which requires prepayment bags in grocery stores to be home-compostable or paper-based by 2025.

Magnani said he was also “very pleased with our advocacy efforts in this state’s budget” as the expiring plastic market development payment was reinstated and allocated $10 million to the next round of funding and $3 million for each of the next two cycles, “to continue to help cover the costs of recycling.

He predicted chemical recycling will continue to be a hot topic and said he has heard rumors that the vetoed thermoforming bill will be reintroduced. He also heard of a potential ban on PVC packaging, PS packaging, PETG (a form of PET modified with glycol), oxo-degradable additives, non-detectable pigments and labels, adhesives and inks problematic.

California’s legislative landscape is also changing, Magnani noted, as there is going to be “a massive turnover of legislators over the next six years.”

More than 30 sitting lawmakers will leave at the end of this year due to redistricting or resignation, he said. By 2028, all 2021 lawmakers will be replaced, Magnani said, changing the game players.

“Stating the obvious here, California can be a challenging environment for business,” he said. “It’s basically a one-party state.”

Pacific Northwest Updates

APR’s Eagles pointed to Washington State’s Recycling, Waste and Waste Reduction Act and Oregon’s Recycling Modernization Act.

Washington State Recycling, Trash, and Waste Reduction Act, SB 5022, past in 2021 and is now in the regulatory phase. APR has been very involved in the rulemaking advisory committee, Eagles said, and some of the topics covered are terms and definitions, how production fees will be set, how the state will certify the PCR content/compliance and technical feasibility.

Washington also appears likely to reintroduce an EPR bill next year, she added, after previous lack attempts.

Oregon’s Recycling Modernization Act has also been promulgated in 2021 and is in the process of developing rules. Eagles noted that part of the law requires the state Department of Environmental Quality to identify two lists of materials by rule: one is materials collected from the curb and the other is materials managed. by producer responsibility organizations via depots or mobile collection events.

DEQ has been “very receptive” to APR’s input, Eagles noted.

There are four categories of items the state committee is trying to decide where to place, Eagles said, including bulky plastics, nursery packaging such as pots and trays, expanded polystyrene and PET thermoforms.

She said that for now, the state seemed to want to exclude thermoforms from both lists and wait for domestic markets to develop.

“I’ll be honest, it was a disappointing result for us,” Eagles said. “It’s good, clear material, but there are challenges that we don’t deny, so we’re looking at that closely.”

The regulatory committee has until September 2023 to propose rules for state review.

More Legislation Stories