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State Legislative Roundup

It's only March, but many states are already racing to get through committee and chamber deadlines before their sessions end. New Mexico wrapped its regular session in February; and Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, Oregon, Arkansas, and Indiana are all scheduled to finish their sessions by the end of next week.
In contrast, the session will just be stating in Louisiana on the March 12, and North Carolina's session doesn't start until May. ISRI is already tracking nearly 800 bills and regulations that could impact the recycling industry, and over 60 directly target paper.

Why this matters: Bills and regulations targeting paper can directly change how your business operates. In worst-case scenarios, legislation could even make it impossible for recyclers to stay in business.

Extended Producer Responsibility
While not as prevalent as in some recent sessions, ISRI is tracking several Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)/product stewardship bills that could impact paper recyclers, and more can be expected as the session continues. Massachusetts HB 447 would create a packaging reduction and recovery fee on all products contained in packaging, and HB 435, carried over from the 2017 session, would require producer responsibility for various products, including printed materials and consumer packaging.

Several other states have recently begun introducing legislation requiring extended producer responsibility for other established recycling commodities such as tires, and more bills targeting paper, packaging, and other products will likely follow soon. While ISRI's members have so far been successful in testifying against such legislation, such as the 2017 Connecticut framework bill, the industry needs to stay on guard against legislation that seeks to take control of the recycling industry away from recyclers.

Auxiliary Containers
Bills regulating paper and plastic bags and other containers and packaging are a growing trend in state legislatures, and are increasingly gathered into general bills impacting all "auxiliary containers". While these were (and still are) predominantly bills seeking to impose bans and/or fees on bags and other containers, such as the California bag ban enacted by referendum in 2017 and pending legislation in New York (SB 7760), New Jersey (AB 3267) and many other states, such bills have failed to gain much traction at the state level. Outside of California, Hawaii is the only other state with an effective statewide ban, as the major counties have all passed bans on plastic bags as well as paper bags with less than 40 percent recycled material.

Instead, bills prohibiting local regulations of auxiliary containers, while fewer in number, are actively being considered and passed by many states. Nine states have already preempted local regulations, while others have overturned or placed holds on individual local regulations.This year, bills prohibiting local regulations have already passed their chambers of origin in Mississippi and South Carolina.

ISRI's Position on Bans and Fees for Recyclable Paper and Plastic Bags opposes bans and fees on paper and plastic bags that are being manufactured into useful commodity grade materials.

Paper Beat

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