California has extended requirements for including post-consumer material in plastic trash bags and adopted national standards on use of environmental marketing claims. Gov. Pete Wilson signed Assemblyman Byron Sher's trash-bag Assembly Bill 1851 on Oct. 12 and Sen. Tim Leslie's environmental-advertising Senate Bill 426 on Oct. 6.
Under AB 1851, plastic trash bags with a thickness of at least 0.75 mil must contain at least 20 percent recycled material as of Jan. 1, and 30 percent beginning in 1997.
``Our industry is making headway in the sense of complying with the law,'' said Tom Scott, government relations consultant with the California Film Extruders and Converters Association. ``Shifting the compliance date out by two years [from January 1995] gives them a little leeway and more time to comply.''
The law exempts bags using adhesive heat-affixed straps until 1997 for those making that type bag prior to 1995. The California Integrated Waste Management Board was directed to consider petitions from those manufacturers for a variance on that product beyond the scheduled 1997 implementation.
SB 426 brings California into compliance with the Federal Trade Commission's 1992 green guides, currently under a review that includes a Dec. 7-8 public workshop.
``It was difficult to deal with state-by-state standards,'' said Dan Colegrove, manager of state affairs for the western United States with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
In 1990, California ``was the first to have a law setting standards on labeling'' but the lack of national uniformity on environmental marketing claims was a problem, Colegrove said. Now, 15 states have adopted the FTC standards, effective July 5.
``No actions had ever been brought'' under the California law, Colegrove said, ``but the FTC has concluded 30 cases and more are in the pipeline.''