US states consider EPR, recycling bills

Sunny Roe

12-May-2022

HOUSTON (ICIS)–An extended producer responsibility (EPR) bill addressing packaging advanced through legislative chambers in Colorado this week, as an EPR bill for packaging as well as a more stringent and updated bottle bill were introduced in the state of New York. while legislative sessions in Hawaii and Maryland ended without passing the states’ EPR proposals.

Colorado House Bill 22-1355 (HB 22-1355), an EPR bill addressing consumer packaging was sent to Governor Jared Polis’s office on Wednesday after passing through the Senate by a 43 to 22 vote.  If signed into law, the bill would establish a producer-funded recycling system for consumer-facing printed paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic packaging within the state.

“With our low recycling rates and supply chain woes, now is the time for Colorado to be a leading state and pass producer responsibility – a policy that will expand recycling access and equity, cut climate pollution and provide a steady supply chain of recyclable materials for Colorado manufacturers,” Charles Kamenides, board president of Recycle Colorado, said in a press release.

The EPR bill would task the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) with founding a producer responsibility organisation (PRO).  Companies that sell consumer-facing packaging, with exception for smaller businesses, would be required to join the PRO and pay dues that would fund the statewide collection system.

The PRO would be required to submit a detailed program proposal by 1 February 2025 and implement the program by 1 July 2025. The initial program would be for residential collection and later extend to non-residential entities by 2028. If the bill is cemented into law, Colorado would become the third state to pass EPR legislation on packaging, following Maine and Oregon.

New York could be the next state in line to establish an EPR program for packaging, if the recently introduced Assembly Bill 10185 (A10185) garners the needed support to pass through the legislative bodies.

A10185, if passed, would set up an EPR program making producers responsible for the reduction and recycling of packaging waste. This bill comes after a similar measure was recently removed from the governor’s executive budget proposal.

Under the bill, companies would be required to switch to more sustainable packaging, pay fees on the packaging used, and hold responsibility for disposal of packaging waste. A10185 includes any portion of a package or container used throughout the packaging process including but not limited to containment, protection and distribution and covers most packaging materials.

“It is troubling that after all these years, the problem of over-packaging has only gotten worse,” New York Assemblyman Steve Englebright said in a press release.  “This bill shifts the fiscal responsibility for packaging away from the taxpayers. It will save tax dollars and help to preserve our environment.”

Additionally, A10185 mandates that companies reduce packaging by 50% over the next 10 years, by which a company could choose more sustainable packaging, shift to reuse and refill systems and/or eradicate excess packaging.  The introduction of A10185 follows the recent passage of New York’s Assembly Bill 09279 (A09279), a bill that will create an EPR program for carpet.

In other New York recycling news, an updated and more stringent version of the state’s bottle bill was proposed in Assembly Bill 10184 (A10184) that could include additional bottle types and increase the deposit rate from 5 cents to 10 cents. As we have seen in states with bottle bills, the refund amount is correlated to the return rate so that higher refund amounts typically result in higher return rates.  The passage of this measure could cause an increase to the 64% return rate seen in New York during 2020, and in turn boost bottle-feedstock supply.

Likewise, Colorado and additional states that pass EPR laws on packaging would likely see spikes in supply within the states once the programs are implemented. Hawaii and Maryland, however, did not see the same level of success with their EPR proposals during the recently ended legislative session.

Hawaii’s EPR bill, House Bill 2399 (HB2399), did move through both legislative chambers, but was shifted to a committee process that failed to complete before the state’s legislative session ended. The bill would have required producers to pay a fee for waste reduction and reuse projects and set packaging waste reduction targets of 50% by 2026 and 80% by 2030.

Maryland’s Senate Bill 0292 and the companion House Bill 0307 (HB0307) also failed to pass and never advanced beyond the initial committee review.  The bills would have required producers to propose a “responsibility plan” to the Maryland Department of the Environment as well as pay a tax on packaging materials to fund a statewide recycling program.

These developments in legislative proposals are presented as the recycled plastics market faces unparalleled demand. The demand is fuelled by both sustainability targets on a corporate level as well as changes in regulation such as the adoption of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content laws in states like California, Washington and New Jersey.

ICIS has launched a new US recycled polyethylene (R-PE) and US recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) commodity services. To subscribe to the new pricing service, or for further information, please contact clientsuccess@icis.com.

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