Congress Ponders Packaging Legislation

Congress Ponders Packaging Legislation

As we get into 2024, these key federal initiatives will continue to be monitored by the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).


FPA has been tracking several pieces of recycling/ composting legislation at the federal level, including the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2023 (House of Representatives [H.R.] 6159/Senate [S.] 1189) and the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act and (H.R. 4040/S. 1194). FPA has weighed in with congressional committees in support of these bills.

Generally, FPA supports federal investment in mechanical and advanced recycling systems and access to the collection, sortation, and reprocessing of flexible packaging. FPA believes the federal government should invest in industrial composting systems that accept packaging with proteins. Overall, FPA would like to see access to collec- tion and composting on a broad scale for U.S. consumers.

Plastic Pollution

At the end of 2023, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

“The legislation would reduce plastic production, establish ambitious recycling targets, and protect frontline and fence line communities from the health and environmental burdens of toxic emissions from the plastics industry through reducing production and by changing the incentives of the industry,” according to the news release issued by the sponsors.

This legislation is not expected to move this year and is currently viewed mainly as a messaging document given that its sponsors are all Democrats. More information can be found at

FPA also supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution” to reduce plastic waste and other post-consumer materials in waterways and oceans, which was directed by Congress in the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. There has been some discussion by the Save Our Seas co-sponsors of potentially introducing Save Our Seas 3.0, which may happen this year.

Extended Producer Responsibility

In 2023, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held several hearings examining single-use plastic and beverage container waste, and the committee will continue to explore these and other extended producer responsibility (EPR) issues in 2024. FPA generally supports EPR legislation and considers it a better path forward than material bans. FPA also believes a clear set of federal rules and guidelines is critical. The current state-by-state approach will create a difficult path ahead in maintaining uniformity across the industry as states may adopt different rules. EPR can be an effective policy to promote the necessary infrastructure shift to recycle flexible packaging materials in the U.S.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

Numerous states have had significant activity with laws that focus on regulating the intentional use of per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in flexible food packaging. While there has been less legislative activity at the federal government concerning packaging, there is a bipartisan concern over PFAS. It is expected that the next Congress, regardless of the political party in control, will continue efforts to protect communities from exposure to PFAS.

During the summer of 2023, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chair and ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee, respectively, released draft PFAS legislation seeking to improve the mitigation and remediation of PFAS contamination. This legislation may be introduced in 2024 but will not likely be enacted. That said, over the past few years, legislative provisions regarding PFAS have been included in many legislative packages and appropriations bills that have moved through Congress, and this trend will likely continue.