Only 12 states are currently in their regular legislative sessions, though several will inevitably be back for special sessions through the summer and fall.
Numerous changes impacting the recycling industry have already been passed across the nation; we've outlined a few of these below. You can view any of the bills mentioned as well as additional information for each state on ISRI's State Resources and Tracking pages.
Why this matters: Bills and regulations targeting the recycling industry can directly change how your business operates. In worst-case scenarios, legislation could even make it impossible for recyclers to stay in business.
Vehicle/Metals Theft Law Crossover
A growing concern for recyclers comes from bills that blur the lines between metals theft law 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 them, and some have a mix between the metals theft and motor vehicle statutes with more or less clarity for businesses trying to comply.
Below are some of the bills passed this year that highlight this issue:
* Oklahoma HB 2950 makes important changes to several metals theft provisions as well as the specific restrictions on vehicles and copper;
* Wisconsin SB 246 clarifies that scrap metal processors must follow the same rules as motor vehicle salvage dealers when purchasing a motor vehicle for scrap or salvage and repeals the special vehicle purchase provisions from the state's metals theft law;
* Arizona HB 2307 creates a new provision allowing scrap metal dealers and automotive recyclers to purchase a vehicle without a title if it is at least 10 years old, subject to numerous recordkeeping and reporting requirements. It also adds a new definition for a "scrap vehicle" (vehicles that have already been reported to NMVTIS and flattened, crushed, baled, or logged) to the state's metals theft law as part of the definition for ferrous metal; and
* Illinois HB 5056 is nearing a final vote as well. The bill amends scrap processor recordkeeping requirements under 625 ILCS 5/5-401.3 related to recyclable metal valued at $100 or more (vehicle code, but it also includes purchases of recyclable metal separate from the metals theft statutes under 815 ILCS 325) to specify that the photocopy or electronic scan of the seller's ID must be in color, along with other changes directly impacting the vehicle detitling and dismantling requirements.
Recycled Tire/Rubber State Legislation
Bills targeting synthetic turf in Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have been defeated or sidelined for the year, with the only bills to pass being appropriations to build or repair fields. Several bills have passed that impact their state's tire recycling programs:
* Kentucky HB 487 increased tire fee to $2 until July 1, 2020 and made subject to sales tax;
* Nebraska LB 1008 extends the grants for new scrap tire projects until 2024; and
* Oklahoma SB 1412 changes allocations to the Used Tire Recycling Indemnity Fund.
Louisiana has sent several bills to the governor that would impact tire recyclers:
* HB 142 temporarily increases the standard tire fee to $2.25/tire;
* HB 840 requires applicants for a business license who intend to sell used tires to submit permits from the DEQ verifying they are authorized to sell; and
* HB 855 creates a definition for "customary end-market use," sets a 15-day deadline for the DEQ to deny end-market use applications, and sets the Waste Tire Program Task Force to disband on February 15, 2020.
Recycled Electronics State Legislation
Illinois continues to work towards allowing CRTs to be stored in landfills for future retrieval while barring independent accreditation organizations (such as SERI with the R2 Standard) from penalizing such companies. The current version was a substitute amendment to Illinois HB 1439 and has currently passed both chambers.
In Maine, LD 1847 was passed despite a veto by Governor LePage. The overall impact is to remove computers that don't include integrated displays, exempt cellphones, and change manufacturer responsibilities to market share for all items (currently return share for computer products and market share for TVs). This effectively relieves manufacturers of older TVs from some of the responsibility for their products by grouping computer monitors, laptops, and tablets into the same category as TVs. Responsibility for recycling payments is then based on each company's current market share of sales instead of the weight of electronics with their brands that were recycled.
Despite the number of bills seeking to tax, ban, or otherwise restrict the use of recyclable paper and plastic bags greatly outweighing bills seeking to protect their use, states have once again proven reluctant to follow the models set by California and Hawaii.
Instead, Mississippi joined the ranks of states that prohibit local governments enacting an ordinance regulating the use of auxiliary containers. Minnesota is currently considering similar legislation; the omnibus bill HF 947 includes a section banning local governments from imposing a new tax or fee on the retail sale of food or on any container used for transporting, protecting, or consuming food.
Bottom line: ISRI members need to be involved with their policymakers on the federal, state, and local levels to ensure the industry can continue to operate without excessive statutory and regulatory burdens.
Go deeper: If you'd like to find out what changes could impact your company, visit ISRI's State Policy page 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 live legislative and regulatory reports to the State Resources and Tracking pages to make keeping up-to-date in your state easier, and will be adding more resources in the coming year.
For questions about the state program please contact Danielle Waterfield.