Plastics and packaging interests are mobilizing to stop a California recycling bill that would put food and cosmetic packaging back into the state law on rigid plastics container recycling.
The Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved the bill May 10 in a 7-2 vote. The next step is a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The legislation would require that 35 percent of all plastic bottles be recycled — up from the current 25 percent mandate. If that goal is not met, manufacturers would have to prove they use 35 percent recycled content.
Plastics industry lobbyists are concerned that food and cosmetic customers will switch to glass or steel packaging rather than use post-consumer plastic. But environmentalists say the law is necessary to create higher-value markets for recycled plastic.
`It is critical that the plastics industry take more responsibility for developing strong, economical markets for recycled materials,'' said Rick Best, spokesman for Californians Against Waste in Sacramento, Calif.
Two Washington-based trade groups, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and American Plastics Council, have put a priority on trying to stop passage of the bill.
``It's a challenge because we have a Democratic legislature and a Democratic governor, and we don't have many places to stop this bill,'' said Laurie Hansen, director of western region government affairs for the SPI/APC state government affairs unit in Sacramento.
The 62-member California Packaging Alliance, a coalition of trade groups, plastics interests and makers of consumables, opposes the bill, along with the California Teamsters union and West Coast Protective League.
Lance Hastings, senior manager for state affairs with the Grocery Manufacturers of America's western region in Sacramento, heads the industry counteroffensive.
``Food safety is the single-most-important aspect for our companies and consumers,'' Hastings said.
Senators Richard Rainey, R-Walnut Creek, and Cathie Wright, R-Simi Valley, voted against the bill.
``This bill is too restrictive,'' Rainey said in a statement. ``Food and cosmetic containers account for a relatively miniscule amount of waste, and there is no evidence that the changes this bill proposes would have the desired effect on recycling.''