California recycled-content laws on rigid containers and trash bags appear to be weathering the rollback efforts of some members of the plastics industry. "Opposition has built'' to changes, said Rick Best, policy director for Californians Against Waste of Sacramento. There are ``lots of attacks on environmental laws,'' but ``the public recognizes these laws serve a purpose.''
``Overwhelmingly, the public wants recycling,'' said Sacramen-to lobbyist Pete Price, who represents recyclers opposed to the pending bills. ``It's one thing they can do on a day-to-day basis to contribute to the environment.''
Price said, ``We're nervous until the Legislature adjourns Aug. 31.''
Senate bill 1155, which would repeal a 1991 law requiring recycling of rigid plastic containers, languishes in a Senate committee after passing the Assembly. Sen. Kenneth Maddy, R-Fresno, withdrew SB 1155 from the concurrence calendar for a mid-May hearing in the Senate governmental organization committee.
``We are looking at alternatives to repeal of the law,'' said Bill Grigg, vice president of government affairs for the California League of Food Processors in Sacramento. ``One idea being considered is an exemption for food and cosmetic containers.''
The CLFP, the Grocery Manu-facturers Association and the American Plastics Council support SB 1155. Opponents include the League of California Cities, environmentalists, recyclers, and the disposal units of WMX Tech-nologies and Browning-Ferris Industries Inc., which have contracts for curbside recycling programs.
``I think any attempt to repeal the law is dead in the Senate,'' CAW's Best said May 22. SB 1155 is ``a bad bill for plastics recycling and undermines the market for recycled materials.''
``The opposition is winning,'' said Laurie Hansen, director of government affairs for APC's Western region.
Local governments favor the status quo. ``We have recycling requirements on us to divert from landfills,'' said Yvonne Hunter, legislative representative for the League of California Cities. ``We strongly support efforts to enhance markets for recycled materials and, therefore, oppose SB 1155.''
Price noted: ``There is a lot of investment in curbside recycling. Every time we put a two-liter bottle on the curb with redemption value, we're doing our part and giving 5 cents to the city to recycle. Manufacturers must do their part as well.'' Price represents recyclers Ecosource, an Ecoplast subsidiary, in Los Angeles and Talco Plastics Inc. in Whittier, Calif.
The Assembly acted on another recycling issue May 13, approving Assembly bill 2744 on a 43-to-33 vote. Proponents expect AB 2744, which would modify regulations on post-consumer content in trash bags, to be heard in June in the Senate governmental operation committee.
Meanwhile, AB 2744's ``sponsors are meeting with the bill's opponents to satisfy their concerns,'' Sheron Galuppo, administrative assistant for Assembly-man Dick Ackerman, R-Fullerton, said May 23.
First Brands Corp. of Danbury, Conn.; Tenneco Inc.'s Packaging Division in Pittsford, N.Y.; and Presto Products of Appleton, Wis., favor AB 2744 to roll back what they see as cost-adding, California-unique requirements. Opponents include recyclers, environmentalists and disposal firms.
At present, bags of at least three-quarters of a mil thick must contain at least 20 percent recycled material, and that figure goes to 30 percent on Jan. 1.
``I feel we have a 50-50 chance'' to defeat the bill, said John Shedd, Talco president.
Shedd and proponent Bob Vetere, First Brands' director of government relations, discussed AB 2744 at the May 14 meeting of the California Film Extruders & Converters Association.
Subsequently, the CFECA board said it would back legislation calling for 10 percent recycled content and one-mil thickness ``given the present technology.'' Also, the board supports simplified reports and uniform enforcement for bags from out-of-state and out-of-country sources and opposes any outright repeal of the existing law.