ISRI is currently tracking over 170 bills and regulations targeting plastics, though the majority of these have either already died or will do so when sessions adjourn this year (excepting New Jersey and Virginia, as their sessions run from 2018 to 2019).
New Jersey Bag Fee Vetoed
New Jersey AB 3267, imposing a 5 cent fee on any "single-use carryout bag", was vetoed on August 27 and returned to the Assembly after a surprise 4 day push in late June saw it rocket from initial committee through passage by the legislature. But the bill was vetoed because it "does not go far enough", with Governor Murphy calling for "a more robust and comprehensive method of reducing the number of single-use bags in our State".
Several other bills targeting plastic and paper bags (as well as other auxiliary containers) are pending in New Jersey, including NJ AB 4330, which simply prohibits stores or food service businesses from providing plastic carryout bags, and also bans food service businesses from selling or providing expanded polystyrene food containers or single-use plastic straws, with up to a $5,000 penalty for each offense.
While New Jersey debates on whether to join the California plastic bag ban and Hawaii's effective statewide ban, most other states have moved in the opposite direction. Despite a far greater number of bills being introduced to restrict, tax, or ban auxiliary containers, legislation prohibiting local regulations has seen far greater success. 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.
California Passes Plastic Bottle Recycling Incentives
California SB 854 creates market incentives for plastic beverage containers processed into plastic flake, pellet, sheet, or other form of plastic. The containers must be collected, washed, and processed in California, for which the "reclaimer" will receive a payment; manufacturers purchasing such stock to manufacture a plastic product in California will also receive payments. The bill became effective on June 27, with the incentives payments set to expire on July 1, 2022. There is also active legislation (currently SB 875, though bill text in California is often swapped between bills) that would expand the new law to cover the uses of 3rd parties by reclaimers or manufacturers.
Rhode Island Executive Order on Tackling Plastics
Independently of legislative action, Rhode Island Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 18-06 "Tackling Plastics" on July 16. The order cites "developing stronger plastics reduction policies at the state level, design to reduce the use of plastics" as a top goal of the Governor, and establishes the Task Force to Tackle Plastics to provide recommendations to the Governor by February 18, 2019 addressing the use, reuse, and clean-up of plastics in Rhode Island.
Texas Supreme Court Overturns Laredo Bag Ban
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in City of Laredo, Texas v. Laredo Merchants Ass'n that the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act preempts a Laredo ban on plastic and paper checkout bags. Texas Health and Safety Code § 361.0961 states that local governments may not "prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law". While the ordinance was initially upheld in trial court, the court of appeals and Supreme Court both ruled that plastic and paper bags are "containers" and that "the Act forbids home-rule cities from regulating that subject matter." The section also prevents local fees or deposits on the sale or use of a container or package.