As state legislatures have entered the fall election season, 2020 will once again prove to be an exception—many states continue to convene sporadically to address urgent budget and policy issues. Many of these actions and complementary regulatory proceedings could have a direct impact on the flexible packaging industry for many years to come. Specifically, dramatic state and local budget deficits are creating intense pressure to either cut services, like recycling, or fund programs through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs.
The following are a few states where active policy discussions and legislation have impacted—and will continue to impact—the flexible packaging industry:
In August, the California Legislature, after a COVID-19 forced shutdown, hurtled to the end of its two-year session. Throughout, FPA engaged in active advocacy on SB 54/AB 1080—which would set mandatory recycling rates and dates for packaging. At the last minute, in an effort to garner support, the sponsors of the legislation proposed amendments to these bills limiting the scope to plastics and certain mixed-paper formats. The prognosis remains uncertain, and it changes by the day.
Additionally, the Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets & Curbside Recycling (created by AB 1583) continues to meet to discuss policy recommendations that will help California achieve its 75% recycling, composting, and source-reduction goal. The commission also accepted public input on packaging requirements to improve markets and recycling of packaging.
The Michigan Legislature debated six bills—HB 5812, HB 5813, HB 5814, HB 5815, HB 5816, and HB 5817—that were filed to encourage better materials management by local solid waste programs. These bills are the culmination of a multiyear process that has led to the development of new benchmark recycling goals. The bills set a recycling rate goal of 35% by 2025 and 45% following that. Additionally, local waste authorities would be required to provide access to recycling for at least 90% of the population in all areas of the state. While the industry has generally been supportive of these goals, some solid waste haulers have expressed concern over how increased service and access to recycling will be funded.
TheRecycling Steering Committee met on a weekly basis to identify what Oregon’s future recycling system should look like. Discussions have included labeling requirements, contamination reduction, and EPR. As a result, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is likely to propose 2021 legislation with a statewide list of accepted materials and an EPR requirement.
The Plastic Packaging Evaluation and Assessment Law was completed and will be delivered to the state legislature in late 2020. Under the bill, the state Department of Ecology (DoE) commissioned an independent study of plastic packaging that will offer recommendations for reducing plastic packaging waste. These recommendations were preliminarily released in early August and focus heavily on EPR and recycled content mandates.