California Legislature Targets Thermoformed Packaging

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California lawmakers rushed to pass hundreds of bills before the legislative session officially ended at midnight on August 31. AB 2784, which would establish a mandate for the amount of recycled content in thermoformed packaging. If the bill is signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, it would require most types of thermoformed plastic containers to include a percentage of recycled content that gradually increases from 10% in 2025 to 20% by 2028 and 30% by 2030.

AB 2784 exempts high recycle rate thermoformed packaging as well as medical device, pharmaceutical and infant formula packaging. Reusable containers that “would normally be returned to the manufacturer for refilling and resale” would also be exempt.

To ensure compliance, the state would impose an “annual administrative penalty” on violators, who would then deposit the fine into a thermoform recycling enhancement penalty account, also created by the bill. AB 2784 sets out a series of calculations to determine whether or not the packaging “producer” has met the requirements at multiple levels. For example, “lower quantities of recycled resin” would be fined 20 cents per pound for all types of thermoformed plastic except expanded polystyrene, which is hit with a hefty $1 per pound.

Who pays, you ask? Well, the “producer”, which the bill defines as “the entity that manufactures a product that is packaged in thermoformed plastic containers and that owns or is the licensee of the mark or trademark under which the product is used in a commercial enterprise,” or is sold, offered for sale, or distributed within the state. In the event that no state entity meets the bill’s definition of producer, a few clauses dig deeper into other potentially liable parties, ultimately landing on anyone “selling, offering for sale, or distributing the thermoformed plastic container.” in or in the State”. .”

Will Newsom sign the bill? He clearly sees himself as a “green” giant on the political podium. He wants to see California take the lead on environmentally friendly legislation, as evidenced by the state’s ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. He also signed CS54 enacted in June, the toughest legislation in the country limiting single-use packaging. It’s no secret that he plans to run for president, possibly as early as 2024, and there’s a calculus at play in how he governs California that goes beyond his progressive leanings. . Some doubt Newsom’s signature of AB 2784.

Report on the passage of the bill to the legislature, California News noted the extremely low collection rate of the nearly 200 million pounds of thermoformed plastic discarded each year. Journalist Tim Svendsen spoke with Vernon, Calif.-based Green Impact Plastics, which is dedicated to recycling thermoformed plastic. It may be counterintuitive, but the business owner opposes the legislation.

“The bill fails to address the core issue that Green Impact has struggled with for the past three years – collection,” said CEO Octavio Victal. California News. “The bill will have very little impact on collection until the bottles bill co-mixing rate is determined and CalRecycle stops encouraging the mixing of thermoforms with PET bottles.”

Victal thinks Newsom could take notice of industry concerns. We will know if he is right by September 30, the deadline for signing the bill.

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