California Passes Slew of Recycling Bills in Last Days

California lawmakers sent a number of recycling-related bills to the governor at the end of this session. | Leonid Adronov/Shutterstock

When California’s legislative session ended on August 31, a number of recycling-related bills passed just before the deadline. Here is an overview of the bills that are currently awaiting enactment and have already been signed into law.

Extension of the bottle deposit system – SB 1013

SB 1013 has undergone significant amendments before moving on to the Senate and the Assembly.

Now adds distilled wine and spirits to the state’s container buyback program and also allows market development initiatives and improvements to reclaimed glass processing infrastructure, as well as creates several subsidy programs and removes the ability for retailers to choose to pay a daily fee of $100 instead of accepting returned containers, requiring them to either accept containers or join a dealer cooperative.

The bill awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

PCR requirements for thermoforms – AB 2784

Thermoformed PET packaging already contains relatively high percentages of post-consumer resin (PCR), but the recycled content comes primarily from beverage bottles. AB 2784 requires PCR to be derived from recycled thermoforms.

The legislation covers a broad category of food and beverage packaging, including shells, cups, pods, jars, lids, boxes, trays, egg cartons and other similar non-bottle rigid packaging. The bill requires thermoforms to average at least 10% PCR from 2025.

Subsequent requirements depend on the overall recycling rates of thermoforms. If the thermoform recycling rate is 50% or more in calendar year 2026, then producers should average 20% starting in 2028. If the 2026 recycling rate is less than 50%, growers should achieve an average of 25% PCR.

Then, if the recycling rate of thermoforms in 2029 is 75% or more, thermoform producers should average 20% PCR. But if the recycling rate is less than 75%, they should reach 30% PCR.

The bill includes penalties, reporting requirements, exemptions and provisions to reduce penalties. Some recycling groups, including the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), have expressed concern that supply will not be available to produce enough recycled resin from thermoforms. (APR owns Resource Recycling, Inc.) One reason given is the ability of California recycling facility operators to include a certain amount of non-returnable containers, including blister packs, in bales of PET bottles. for which the state pays cash surrender values.

AB 2784 is still pending review by Newsom.

Battery EPR – AB 2440

AB 2440 creates an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for loose batteries that can be removed by consumers. He is waiting for the governor’s signature.

The original text of the invoice included in-battery products, but this has been removed in favor of covering these products in a separate invoice (see SB 1215 details below).

According to the text of the bill, producers can set up collection programs individually or through a stewardship organization, and will be responsible for fully funding training, collection and disposal. . Program operators will also be required to achieve a minimum recycling efficiency rate of 60% for rechargeable batteries and 70% for primary batteries by January 1, 2027.

Following its adoption, Call2Recycle CEO Leo Raudys said in a statement that “proper battery recycling is not only a safety imperative, it is also an environmental and social responsibility.”

Battery Integrated Products – SB 1215

SB 1215 adds battery-integrated products to the state’s existing e-scrap program. Starting January 1, 2026, consumers would be charged a point-of-sale fee to cover the end-of-life costs of devices. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

A covered product with an integrated battery is a product containing a battery “that is not intended to be easily removed from the product by the consumer with commonly used household tools,” the text of the bill states, excluding devices medical devices, energy storage systems and electronic devices. nicotine delivery systems. The bill is on the governor’s desk.

EPR paper and packaging – SB 54

CS54 was enacted on June 30. create a producer responsibility organization (PRO) to operate a state-supervised collection and recycling program for printed paper and packaging.

Also known as the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act, the bill calls for a 25% reduction in single-use plastic packaging and foodservice products by 2032, almost half of this reduction comes from eliminating plastic packaging directly or switching to reuse. and charging systems, instead of switching to other single-use equipment.

In addition, the bill requires all single-use food packaging and utensils, including non-plastic items, to be recyclable or compostable by 2032 and mandates a 65% recycling rate for plastics by 2032. same year.

It also calls for a needs assessment, paid for by the PRO but overseen by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), and eco-tuned fees designed to incentivize producers to use sustainable, recyclable or reusable materials.

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