The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery published drafts of its covered material list categories for the extended producer responsibility for packaging program, among other announcements. | Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

California is moving ahead on implementation of its extended producer responsibility law. The state agency recently released a draft of the regulations and selected a producer responsibility organization. 

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) on Jan. 8 announced that Circular Action Alliance (CAA) will serve as the producer responsibility organization (PRO). The group is also the PRO in Colorado and is part of an EPR study in Maryland. It plans to submit a plan in Oregon, as well. 

As the PRO, CAA will be responsible for developing and submitting a producer responsibility plan, source reduction plan, annual budget and annual reports to CalRecycle, as well as submitting data and setting fees for participant producers. 

In a statement to Resource Recycling, CAA said it was “honored to be selected as the PRO in California.” 

“We look forward to supporting all producers as they prepare to comply with SB 54 and to working collaboratively with CalRecycle, the Advisory Board, local governments, recyclers and the many stakeholders who will play a role in delivering the requirements of the law,” CAA said.

In a press release, Charlie Schwarze, CAA board chair and senior director of sustainability at Keurig Dr Pepper, added that the appointment “further advances our vision to build a circular economy for packaging at scale across the United States.” 

“CAA is composed of some of the most respected companies in food, beverage, consumer goods and retail that have come together to deliver harmonized best-in-class compliance services, scale innovation and build systems that help both companies and consumers waste less and recycle more,” Schwarze said. 

SB 54 draft regulations 

CalRecycle also released a draft of SB 54 regulations in advance of next year’s formal rulemaking process, along with the covered material list categories and its report to the legislature. 

Rachel Machi Wagoner, director of CalRecycle, said in a press release that “building a circular economy that reuses products that are built to last instead of turning raw materials into trash is a roadmap to California’s waste-free future.” 

The draft regulations clarify how PROs can recommend additions to the covered material category list, what data can be used to determine recycling rate, requirements for a product to be labeled compostable and requirements for independent third-party validation of post-consumer recycled content. 

The draft framework provides a process to adjust source reduction measurements “to account for fluctuations in economic conditions and the increase or decrease in the number of producers participating.”

Parameters for responsible end markets are laid out in the draft regulations, including record keeping transparency, how to maximize benefits to the environment and minimize risks to public health and safety, adequate recycling yields, viability and verification. 

The draft regulations direct PROs to determine eco-modulation fee levels and provide justification for those fees. The draft also clarifies the responsibilities of independent producers to create and submit a management plan. 

Looking to the covered material categories list, CalRecycle determined the following to be recyclable, all with and without plastic components: glass bottles and jars; non-aerosol aluminum containers; aluminum foil sheets; aluminum foil molded containers; aerosol aluminum cans; kraft paper; OCC; paperboard; white paper; mixed paper; colored and natural PET bottles, jugs, jars and thermoformed containers; colored and natural HDPE bottles, jugs, jars, pails and buckets; and PP bottles, jugs, jars and thermoformed containers. 

Molded fiber packaging without plastic components is also considered recyclable.

Ceramics, tin, steel, bi-metal, multi-material laminates, waxed OCC, PET or HDPE film and flexibles, PVC, LDPE, PP utensils or films, PS, plastics and polymers designed for potential compostability, plastic textiles and wood are not designated as recyclable, according to the published list.

Overall, out of 98 covered materials considered, 49% are accepted for collection by recycling programs collectively servicing at least 60% of California’s population.

CalRecycle plans to host a question and answer session in early 2024, with details to be announced. 

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