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State Legislative Roundup: Packaging EPR and Auxiliary Containers

Almost every state legislature has convened for the year, and a few have already finished their regular sessions. In the rest, bill introduction deadlines and chamber crossover deadlines are quickly approaching, so recyclers should keep a close eye on the amendments that will impact their businesses. ISRI makes it easy to view the bills and regulations targeting paper as well as other commodities and issues on our State Resources and Tracking pages.

Packaging EPR / Product Stewardship

To date, there have been 11 extended producer responsibility (EPR) model bills that include packaging in their scope. Previous years had seen declining interest in EPR for products such as paper that have existing recycling markets, but recent media coverage of ocean plastics and market difficulties likely drove some renewed attention.

These bills range from measures such as Indiana SB 619 that specifically target printed paper and packaging to framework bills such as Massachusetts HB 810 that could bring a wide range of materials under its scope. These bills typically do not move beyond their committee of origin (similar bills have been introduced annually in Indiana for several years).

Auxiliary Containers,

Bills seeking to impose restrictions or fees on plastic and paper bags and other containers have also spiked following media coverage; we are only 3 months into 2019, and ISRI is already tracking more auxiliary container bills than were introduced in the entire 2017-2018 cycle. While many of these bills specifically target plastic bags, others also seek to restrict paper bags or set manufacturing requirements for design or recycled content.

Despite the large majority of these bills seeking state or local bans or taxes on bags, only California has passed a statewide ban. Instead, bills prohibiting city or county restrictions on auxiliary containers have been the only ones to pass in recent sessions. However, 2019 could prove a tipping point:

  • The New Jersey governor and legislature declared their intent to pass legislation in 2018, but so far have not done so; 2018 NJ AB 3267 was vetoed for not going far enough (5 cent fee on single use carryout bags);
  • Illinois and New York governors included auxiliary container restrictions in their budget requests;
  • Washington SB 5323, banning single use plastic carryout bags, requiring a "pass-through" charge on recycled content paper bags and reusable plastic bags, and setting manufacturer standards for paper and reusable bags, passed the Senate with minor amendments and has been referred to the House Environment and Energy Committee.
If you'd 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. 

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