State legislatures across the nation are moving into high gear to beat committee and chamber deadlines before their sessions end.
Fourteen states finished their legislative sessions in March, and 11 more will adjourn before the end of April. ISRI is already tracking more than 840 bills and regulations that could impact the recycling industry, and last-minute substitute amendments could pull the industry into completely unrelated legislation as policymakers fight to get their proposals passed.
Why this matters: Bills and regulations targeting metals theft, vehicle detitling and dismantling, product stewardship, and other commodities and issues can directly change how your business operates. In worst-case scenarios, legislation could even make it impossible for recyclers to stay in business.
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 bills have failed to gain much traction at the state level. Instead, bills prohibiting local regulations on auxiliary containers, while fewer in number, are actively being considered and passed by many states.
- California enacted a bag ban by referendum in 2017
- Hawaii has 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.
- In contrast, nine states have already preempted local regulations on auxiliary containers, while others have overturned or placed holds on individual local regulations.
- Bills prohibiting local regulations have already passed their chambers of origin in several states.
- Arizona reaffirmed the ban on local taxes and fees for auxiliary containers with the passage of HB 2484.
- 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.
While some legislatures continue to target synthetic turf and other recycled rubber products, the numerous studies indicating no significant risk to athletes and a Council of State Governments’ (CSG) resolution noting that scientific evidence should be paramount when assessing recycled rubber play surfaces are starting to have a noticeable effect on the debate.
- Proposed moratoriums in Virginia and New Hampshire have already been defeated.
- Recyclers in Maryland successfully testified against a bill prohibiting state funds for synthetic playground or athletic field surfaces.
- A proposed Connecticut moratorium tied to the ongoing federal study received a joint favorable recommendation from the state's Committee on Children.
- Carryover bills from the 2017 session could still be revitalized.
- ISRI's Position on Artificial Turf and Crumb Rubber Infill cautions against premature decisions on crumb rubber infill without first reviewing and considering the existing scientific evidence.
ISRI's efforts to work with law enforcement and policymakers to combat materials theft through policy and community action are having a marked impact on state legislation.
- In contrast to previous years, many of the proposals introduced for the 2018 session are relatively minor tweaks to existing law
- Bills supported by the industry are moving forward in several states
- A growing concern for recyclers comes from bills that blur the lines between metals theft requirements on scrap metal purchases and the motor vehicle statute requirements for automotive dismantlers and recyclers.
- Currently there is no uniformity in how states handle purchases
…Some specifically include vehicles in their metals theft laws
…Some exclude vehicles
…Some have a mix between the metals theft and motor vehicle statutes with more or less clarity for businesses trying to comply.
Industry supported bills such as Wisconsin SB 246 would bring clarity to this problem.
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 recyclers, and more can be expected as the session continues.
- Connecticut HB 5128 once again raises the specter of a tire EPR program in New England.
- Legislators in Massachusetts have introduced several EPR bills, ranging from those targeting specific products to bills that create a framework in which any product could be added at a later date.
- While ISRI members have been successful in testifying against EPR legislation, such as the 2017 Connecticut EPR bill, scrap recyclers need to remain on guard against legislation that would provide manufacturers an opportunity to control the flow of recyclable materials.
- Several states are considering amendments to their electronics recycling programs that would change how responsibility for the recycling of electronic equipment is divided among OEMs and states are also considering the rates recyclers are to be paid for their efforts.
- ISRI's Position on Producer Responsibility opposes government fees and mandates on products that are being recycled into commodity grade materials, but the position also provides that producers be held financially responsible for the recycling of certain products. ISRI supports ending producer responsibility and government imposed fees as soon as practicable.
- ISRI's Position on Electronics Recycling Legislation holds that such legislation should promote a market‐based, sustainable recycling infrastructure and facilitate the recycling of electronics in an environmentally sound manner.
Bottom line: ISRI members need to be involved with their policymakers on the federal, state, and local levels to ensure the scrap recycling industry can continue to operate without excessive statutory and regulatory burdens.
Go deeper: If you would like to find out what changes could impact your company, visit ISRI's State Policy page or contact Danielle Waterfield if you have any questions about the system or legislation impacting your state. ISRI has also added summaries of ISRI's Positions to the State Policy page as well as legislative and regulatory reports to the State Resources and Tracking pages to make keeping up-to-date in your state easier.