Over 40 states will begin their 2020 legislative sessions by the end of January, and in most of the rest prefiling has already begun. This year will almost certainly see packaging producer responsibility, bans on plastic bags and EPS, and other issues directly impacting plastics recyclers get more traction than in previous sessions. You can keep track of the latest legislation targeting plastics as well as other commodities and issues using ISRI's State Resources and Tracking pages.
Extended Producer Responsibility Looming in 2020
Although states have not yet introduced 2020 legislation targeting packaging for extended producer responsibility (EPR) at the time this was written, that will not stand for long. Legislators in California, Washington, Oregon, Maine, and Vermont have all stated their intent to introduce packaging EPR legislation, and a draft zero-waste bill circulating in Colorado also included a provision seeking packaging EPR.
ISRI's EPR Working Group is currently considering what changes might be needed to ISRI's Position on Producer Responsibility to best equip our chapters in advocating on legislation.
South Carolina Considering Plastics Stormwater Requirements
South Carolina SB 941 would amend the Pollution Control Act to specifically require the Dept. of Health and Environmental Control to "control stormwater discharges related to pre-production plastic [...] by regulating facilities involved in recycling, reprocessing, storage, packaging, crating, or wholesale distribution of pre-production plastics as an industrial activity under Regulation 61-9.122.26(b)(14)" (the industrial stormwater definition).
While the ultimate outcome of such regulations is unknowable, this could be the first step in creating special requirements for plastics materials such as those found in the CA industrial general permit. The Southeast Chapter is actively engaging this legislation.
Plastic Bag Bans Advancing in the States
States continue to pass restrictions on “single-use” bags, with Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, and Oregon all jumping in after New York became the first state since California to pass a plastic bag ban. This trend will continue in 2020 (for example, 6 different bills have already been introduced in Virginia), but will run up against a wall of states that have already passed laws preempting local actions to tax, restrict, or otherwise regulate any auxiliary container, a catch-all term covering bags, cups, and other containers used for transporting food or merchandise from a business.