Plastics Recycling Update

Pressure applied to California for recycled-plastic mandate

Clear Plastic BottlesAs recycled resin markets struggle, San Francisco leaders have called for a statewide bill mandating at least 25 percent recycled content in all single-use plastic beverage containers.

The City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a resolution asking state lawmakers to introduce and pass a bill mandating all single-use beverage containers have at least 25 percent post-consumer content. The resolution asks for a law applying to all beverage containers but specifically mentions the greenhouse gas benefits from recycling PET and HDPE.

Advocacy group Californians Against Waste (CAW) recently wrote about the resolution.

Last year, lawmakers in California introduced legislation mandating PET bottles contain at least 10 percent recycled content. A bill analysis at the time said Coca-Cola used an average of 6 percent recycled content in PET bottles and PepsiCo used an average of 10 percent recycled content in its bottles. Five of Nestle’s brands used a range of 50 percent to 100 percent recycled content. That bill, Assembly Bill 1447, died earlier this year.

CAW said the drastic drop in oil prices has undermined the demand and price for recycled materials collected in California.

“California recycled material processors and recycled product makers are starting to lose market share to out-of-country virgin plastic material producers,” according to CAW.

The resolution noted that about half of California’s PET bottles collected for recycling are sent out of state or exported to other countries.

Low recovered plastics values are also contributing to upstream closures of redemption centers, prompting legislators to advance a bill boosting subsidy payments to stem the tide of closures.

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