Jan 17 - RPPC Program Updates Adopted, Will Increase Demand for Postconsumer Plastics

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This afternoon, CalRecycle Director Carroll Mortensen adopted the proposed revisions to the two-decade old Rigid Plastic Packaging Container (RPPC) program.

These changes are expected to add more than 357 million containers (non-food clamshells and buckets) to the current RPPC program, and create a projected market demand for more than 17 million pounds of postconsumer resin material. The changes, originally initiated in 2007, are supported by postconsumer plastic processors as well as environmental groups.

The RPPC program, created by SB 235 (Hart) in 1991 and effective in 1995, requires many non-food plastic bottles and containers to have 25% postconsumer content. Other compliance options include having a 45% recycling rate, being reusable 5 times or more, or meeting a 10% source reduction.

Over the years, it became clear that the policy was weakened by loophole-ridden regulation and poor enforcement. Many of the proposed changes adopted today will even out the playing field for manufacturers with nearly identical containers while remaining consistent with legislative intent to increase the market for postconsumer plastics.

Next steps: The changes will now go through the final rulemaking process, to be sent to the Office of Administrative Law by mid-February for review and publication. It’s expected that the new RPPC regulations could go into effect by January of next year.

CAW Executive Director Mark Murray testified at today’s hearing in support of the proposed changes, calling the program a "market development program for all plastics" and urging the agency to support the continued growth of markets for two of the most highly recycled plastic resins. He noted the excess supply and processing capacity for those particular plastic resins, and asked the agency to close the loop on plastic recycling.

The opportunities created with this demand for postconsumer resin would keep recycling jobs in California and RPPCs from being landfilled or exported.

Find out more about the RPPC program on our website.