APR Statement on California SB 343
Steve Alexander, President & CEO of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), The Voice of Plastics Recycling, issued the following statement regarding passage by the California legislature of SB 343 "Environmental Advertising: Recycling Symbol: Recyclability: Products and Packaging":
The APR supports the intent of SB 343 to improve truth in labeling regarding environmental claims, including those pertaining to recyclability. However, as we have expressed to the authors of the legislation on many occasions, we continue to have strong concerns that language in the bill could interfere with the growth of emerging recycling markets, potentially reducing volumes of material collected, especially for developing markets such as film plastics and polypropylene.
As a result, APR was placed in the unfortunate position of opposing the bill.
As it stands, the bill may very well cause confusion for brands (and in turn, consumers) in terms of how to label for California versus other markets and may also conflict with existing statute pertaining to film/reusable bags.
The APR appreciates that the bill's author, Senator Ben Allen, submitted a Letter to the Senate Journal (see attached) clarifying the intent of the bill based on APR's concerns. The letter stated:
SB 343 should not be interpreted as preventing manufacturers of reusable plastic bags, who by law must disclose the amount of recycled content directly on their bags, from using the word "recycled" or any of its forms while disclosing the percentage of plastic recycled content that was used in the manufacture of the certified and California compliant reusable bag. Nor should simply directing a consumer to return a plastic bag to a store where a take-back program is available be considered a direction to recycle the bag pursuant Section 42355.51 unless the label clearly makes a reference to recycling.
The APR is committed to working with Senator Allen to address our concerns prior to the bill requirements taking effect in 2025. Given the APR's role as the primary representative of plastic recyclers and the plastics recycling industry, it is incumbent on us to work within the legislative process to advocate for policies that provide solutions to enhance the sustainability and recyclability of plastics packaging, and prevent those that may create market confusion and ultimately do not solve the problems we face as an industry.
Analysis of SB 343
SB 343 does the following:
- Defines state "recyclable" criteria (based on consumer access, aggregation for processing, etc.) to underpin a material and form recyclable list to be developed by CalRecycle that will be used to substantiate on-package recycling claims, if any.
- Requires package manufacturers to maintain records to support environmental or recyclability claims made on their package or product, and to share this information with the public upon request.
- Requires all packaging that does not meet recyclable criteria established by CalRecycle to revert to a solid triangle version (vs. chasing arrows) for package resin ID code by mid-2025, unless the packaging is required to use chasing arrows under federal or state law.
- Exempts beverage containers covered by the state's Container Redemption Value (CRV) deposit law.
- Limits the use of the term "recyclable" (or forms of that word) potentially conflicting with provisions of SB 270 (Chapter 850, of the statutes of 2014, California Public Resources Code 42281). Statutorily, reusable bags are required to use 40 percent post-consumer material, and label the reusable bag with that information. Further, the limitations in SB 343 may interfere with being able to provide consumers understandable directions to return used bags to local retailers and grocers for processing and recycling those bags into new reusable bags.
- Deems plastic packaging to be considered not recyclable in California if it includes any components, inks, adhesives, or labels that prevent the recyclability of the packaging according to the APR Design® Guide published by the Association of Plastic Recyclers. We interpret this to be consistent with the non-recyclable per APR definition category in the APR Design® Guide.
- Takes effect on 7/1/25, 18 months after CalRecycle publishes its first study recyclability list on January 1, 2024, assuming the measure is signed into law.
SB 343 does not:
- Preclude the use of any packaging or products in California.
- Preclude communities from collecting any plastic packaging types, or MRFs from aggregating and sending them to end markets.
- Provide a budget for recycling outreach or education, or attempt to align state list with community / MRF education.
APR President & CEO
The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) is The Voice of Plastics Recycling®. As the international trade association representing the plastics recycling industry, membership includes independent recycling companies of all sizes, processing numerous resins, as well as consumer product companies, equipment manufacturers, testing laboratories, organizations, and others committed to the success of plastics recycling. APR advocates the recycling of all plastics. Visit www.PlasticsRecycling.org for more information.