California Packaging Product Stewardship Reform
Roughly 25 percent of California’s disposed waste stream is comprised of packaging materials. While the benefits of packaging are noted, improper management can result in greenhouse gas emissions, waterway and marine debris, and human health impacts.
According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle),
“(i)n order to help meet the state’s aggressive 75 percent recycling, composting, and source reduction goal by 2020, and particularly in light of significant recent developments such as the drop in California’s recycling rate and potential implications of China’s expanding regulations to ban certain scrap imports, it is critical now more than ever to address this portion of the waste stream. This will require a higher level of awareness and involvement by all parties involved in the sale and use of packaging: manufacturers, distributors, retailers, local governments, waste haulers, and consumers. After an extensive stakeholder outreach process dating back to 2012, the Director of (CalRecycle) instructed staff at the September 2016 monthly public meeting to develop a comprehensive, mandatory policy model for managing packaging to significantly reduce its presence in the waste stream.”
CalRecycle is seeking additional input on the proposed reforms for packaging.
In draft screening criteria for determining priority packaging types released in July 2017, CalRecycle noted that,
“(g)iven that there is not a one-size-fits-all policy solution for all packaging, the Department is choosing to evaluate which mandatory policy models (e.g., Extended Producer Responsibility, etc.) and instruments (e.g., minimum content, etc.) might be best suited to increasing collection and recovery of specific packaging types. In order to do this, staff are developing a set of screening criteria to determine which packaging types could be prioritized for analysis relative to different mandatory policy approaches.”
To further advance public consultation on the issue, including an October 2017 workshop, CalRecycle has released a background document to
“solicit stakeholder input on a comprehensive policy framework as a policy model, what the framework should entail, critical steps for how it could work, and how specific policy tools could be implemented within that framework. In addition, staff are seeking feedback on how the framework could be enforced, how CalRecycle could measure progress and success, and how the framework could respond to changes in the marketplace.”‘
The background document contains final screening criteria for packaging based on the draft criteria and public consultation. Stakeholder submissions received prior to the 10 October workshop are also available here.