A California Senate bill repealing the state's 5-year-old plastics recycling law will probably reach debate in that body this month after passing the House March 20 by a single vote. The Senate is ``the battle ground,'' said Bill Grigg, vice president for government affairs of the California League of Food Processors in Sacramento. The association is a consortium of businesses allied in favor of Senate bill 1155, which repeals the rigid plastic container recycling mandate.
``The Senate is more liberal, with its Democratic majority,'' said Grigg, who would not venture a guess March 27 if a head count in the Senate would give the repeal measure a simple majority of the 40 Senate members needed for passage. ``We're hopeful,'' he said.
``If the law goes away today, nothing's going to change. Plastic will be recycled,'' he said.
The repeal, sponsored by Fresno Republican Sen. Ken Maddy, would eliminate the need for the state to verify that all rigid plastic containers meet one of four criteria: achieve a 25 percent recycling rate, use 25 percent recycled content, be source reduced by 10 percent or be made refillable or reusable.
Repeal sponsors say mandates do less to promote recycling than salable prices for post-consumer plastics. Opponents say that without a mandate, interest so far generated about recycling would shrivel.
``We've never liked it [the 1991 law],'' said Dan Colegrove, manager of state affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America office in Sacramento.
The law's requirement that companies track the passage of containers from manufacturer to eventual disposal is time consuming and therefore costly, they allege.
John Shedd, owner of Talco Plastics Inc. of Long Beach, said only because of the current recycling law, ``I invested $3 million in a new plant in Long Beach so that we could recycle post-consumer plastic containers.'' Without the bill to stimulate demand, ``our post-consumer plastics business would be severely curtailed.''
Environmental lobbyists Cali-fornians Against Waste is op-posed to the bill, contending that plastics recycling lags behind that of other recyclables due to insufficient market demand.
``Without existing law, plastic container manufacturers will have no incentive to take responsibility for their products and support the development of end-use markets for recycled plastic,'' the March 27 issue of its newsletter, "CAW Recycling Advocate," notes.