California legislators are considering one new measure and one old advertising standard in their effort to define when the term ``recyclable'' applies to plastics packaging. At the same time, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against California's law governing recycling messages in advertising are preparing their fourth attempt to have the entire law declared unconstitutional.
A group headed by the Association of National Advertisers Inc. in Washington failed last month to convince the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear its case, but plans to appeal again.
The part of the 1990 California law governing the definition of recyclable already has been stricken as unconstitutionally vague. The court also imposed criminal penalties for those convicted of using the word incorrectly in an advertising message.
Few states are as ticklish as California regarding a printed recycling message on packages. Besides the Golden State, only Rhode Island has chosen to establish its own set of definitions for recycling terms.
New this year is SB 426, introduced by Republican State Sen. Tim Leslie, which would scrap almost the entire existing California labeling law and replace it with the national standard set by the Federal Trade Commission. A Senate committee hearing is set for March 27.
Assembly Bill 227, introduced by Democrat Brian Sher, attempts to clarify and restate some of the existing language of the California law passed in 1990 governing environmental claims on packaging. A hearing on that measure is set for April 4.
Leslie spokesman Roger Wildermuth said SB 426 was introduced because California must ``get with the program.''
``California has been behind the curve in implementing national standards'' for labeling, including claims of recyclability, he said. Four states-Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan and Indiana - have adopted FTC Guides for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.
A supporter of Sher's bill, Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, noted Sher would back a move to make the FTC guides the law ``if the FTC words were permanent, and more than guidelines.''
``We'd like some permanent standard for both `recyclable' and `recycled' - something that doesn't require manufacturers to change their labels from state to state,'' Murray said.