Due to the continued challenges with the implosion of the plastic recycling market caused by many countries, led by China, refusing to accept many waste streams, action by the US Congress has been initiated. Legislation from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), is expected to be introduced soon in both the US Senate and US House of Representatives. The bill is co-sponsored by more than two dozen other House members, as well as five additional senators. So far, no Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors.
The following is a brief review of the key provisions of this pending legislation:
• Producers of covered products (e.g., packaging, containers, food service products and paper) would be required to design, manage, and finance programs to collect and process product waste in state and municipal locations. Establishing these programs would require producers to invest in U.S. domestic recycling and composting infrastructure, thereby covering the costs of waste management and clean-up, and promote awareness-raising measures to reduce waste.
• The legislation would create a nationwide container beverage refund program.
• The legislation seeks to implement source reduction strategies by beginning, in January 2022, to phase out some of the most common single-use plastic products that cannot be recycled and have readily available alternatives. The prohibitions will apply to lightweight plastic carryout bags, food and drinkware from expanded polystyrene, plastic stirrers and plastic utensils.
• Establishment of a minimum recycled content requirement for plastic beverage containers. US EPA would be tasked with setting the requirements which would be required to increase over time.
• Requires the US EPA to develop standardized recycling and composting labels for products and receptacles to encourage proper sorting and disposal of items that can be recycled or composted.
SGIA will continue to follow this important legislative activity. For more information, please contact the SGIA Government Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.