California changes rigid plastic rules

California changes rigid plastic rules

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

California changes rigid plastic rules

In California, a state agency has changed a regulation that could bolster the market for recycled rigid plastics.

Passed in 1991, the California Rigid Plastic Packaging Container law was intended to give the market for recycled rigid plastics a boost, according to Trevor O'Shaughnessy, program manager at the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

"By default, the law probably helps the markets nationwide in the collection of post-consumer plastic, and it's developing a home for that plastic to go into packaging to have a higher and better use," he says.

The law requires manufacturers of many rigid plastic containers for household products to meet one of several requirements aimed at increasing the use of recycled material, including source reduction, weight reduction or a general increase in recycled content in other products, says O'Shaughnessy. Manufacturers also have the option to use 25 percent recycled content in their products under the law, he says.

Earlier this year, CalRecycle changed regulations of the law to end certain exceptions.

Previously, if a clamshell container was sealed once and it couldn't be re-sealed then it was excluded from the law, says O'Shaughnessy. Now, as long as it can be sealed one time, including during the assembly process, it's covered by the law, he says. Additionally, plastic buckets with metal handles were excluded until the change in regulations, he says.

O'Shaughnessy wasn't sure what precisely the impact will be, but he says it should be significant.

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