Jan 19 - California Recyclers Applaud New Recycling Rules

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California recycling companies and environmentalists are applauding the move to strengthen regulations on rigid plastic packaging containers (RPPCs). New regulations adopted earlier this week are expected to increase the demand for postconsumer plastic resin by 17 million pounds, and remove loopholes that allowed compliance through the use of lighter virgin resin.

Californians Against Waste has been closely following and participating in the regulatory process. Said Executive Director Mark Murray,

"Manufacturers of polypropylene paint cans, 5-gallon buckets and transport containers have been claiming and receiving an exemption based on source reduction for years because they were lighter than similar HDPE containers."

Companies that oppose the removal of "resin-switching" languages will now have to comply with the 25% postconsumer content requirement. According to this Plastic News article, they may try blocking the regulation revision or seeking legislative changes to statute that will buy them additional time for compliance or a reduced recycled content requirement.

The new regulations will even the playing field for manufacturers by adding over 357 million RPPC buckets and non-food clamshells that were previously left out of the program while nearly identical containers were not.

The Association for Plastic Recyclers (APR) is supportive of the adopted changes to the RPPC program, a program which has helped create a market for HDPE plastic recycling. Steve Alexander, executive director of APR, noted,

"The [regulations] will not only go a long way toward protecting and enhancing that industry, but will continue to spur on the growth and development of the plastics recycling industry as a whole."

Processors in the well established and well recycled PET and HDPE markets are expected to easily meet the boost in demand for those two plastic resins, but PP recycling rates are dismal in comparison. Murray predicted,

"There is probably not enough polypropylene to meet that [recycled content] requirement. But the idea of the law is to motivate manufactures to invest in recycling infrastructure. Now polypropylene producers will have to make an investment in recycling for paint buckets."

Visit the CAW website for more information on the RPPC program.