Single-use packaging proposal on pause in California

Sweeping legislation in California that would have set aggressive recycling mandates on a range of items failed to advance last week.

Assembly Bill 1080 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 54, were not voted on by the end of the day Friday, the deadline to approve legislation. That means the bills, which would have set substantial recycling and source-reduction requirements on single-use packaging, are dead for now.

The legislation requires the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to, by 2024, develop and adopt regulations that will require all single-use packaging and “priority single-use products” sold in California to be recyclable or compostable by 2030. It also requires producers source reduce their single-use products “to the maximum extent feasible.”

Additionally, the bills mandate that the state “achieve and maintain” a 75% reduction of the waste generated from these single-use products. This can be met through source reduction, recycling or composting.

Besides single-use packaging, the bill identifies “priority single-use products” as foodservice ware such as plates, bowls, cups, utensils, stirrers and straws.

How these goals would carried through is largely up to CalRecycle, which would be required “to conduct extensive outreach to stakeholders and local agencies.” CalRecycle would look into certain “specified regulator measures” that reduce single-use materials. One such measure that’s laid out in the bill is extended producer responsibility (EPR). The legislation “authorizes CalRecycle to allow producers to implement extended producer responsibility programs if the program meets certain criteria and is approved by CalRecycle,” according to a bill analysis from the Senate Environmental Committee.

Other specific regulator measures outlined in the bill text include recyclability labeling requirements, deposit systems, rolling out reusable and refillable delivery systems, advanced disposal fees, incentive programs and more.

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