Two measures have been introduced in Oregon's Senate that opponents claim could gut the state's 1991 rigid plastics container law. Testimony took place Feb. 6 before the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Committee in Salem on SB 279, which would exempt food containers from a law requiring packages have 25 percent recycled content, be made of a plastic with a 25 percent state recycling rate, or be reusable. Robert Danko, senior analyst for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said high recycling rates for PET and HDPE containers have made enforcement of the 1991 mandates unnecessary. But industry wants exemptions before a future legislature raises the rate requirements.
Hearings have not been scheduled on SB 361, which would exempt plastic containers for food and cosmetics and allow a package maker to satisfy the recycling requirements by using reduced packaging.
Steve McCoid, president of the Association of Oregon Food Industries, testified that either food container exemption would exempt small retailers from the same fines as manufacturers, which can run $10,000 a day.
Opponent Robert Guttridge, plastics specialist for K.B. Recycling in Milwaukie, Ore., and past chairman of the Association of Oregon Recyclers, noted, ``It seems unnecessary to amend and substantially weaken a law that has produced favorable results for plastics recycling.''
Chris Taylor, an advocate for the Oregon Public Interest Research Group, said food processors fear that ``if the current [recycling] level drops, they would be forced to meet another, less-desirable, option'' than those offered under the 1991 law.