Plastic bag makers, recyclers and environmentalists are expressing concerns about California's implementation of reusable-bag-law regulations.
Consternation exists about how the state regulatory agency CalRecycle will proceed with its rulemaking for SB 270.
Some of those thoughts were aired during two key sessions at the Western Plastics Association's annual conference.
Separately, a private lawyer's related public-interest litigation about processor and distributor compliance is pending in a Los Angeles court.
For its next step, CalRecycle will hold a 2 p.m. Aug. 15 workshop in Sacramento and broadcast the event live in audio and video formats.
The law has a lengthy history.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 270 effective Sept. 30, 2014, banning single-use carryout plastic grocery bags and establishing CalRecycle's reusable grocery bag program.
Starting July 1, 2015, a store-sold or -distributed reusable plastic grocery bag needed to have capability to carry 22 pounds over a distance of 175 feet for a minimum of 125 uses and have a thickness of at least 2.25 mils.
Effective Jan. 1, 2016, under the law, a reusable plastic bag needed to be made with a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer material. That percentage increases to 40 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, posing new technical challenges for processors.
In a November 2016 referendum on Proposition 67, California voters upheld the provisions of SB 270 with 53 percent of the vote. That action put the law into full effect requiring plastic bags to be reusable and directing that retailers charge for paper and reusable bags.
Another 2016 measure, Proposition 65, failed at the polls receiving 46 percent of the vote. It would have redirected funds from plastic bag sales to environmental projects.
CalRecycle is obligated to maintain a list of certified manufacturers qualified to sell bags in the state.
Getting the reusable bag program implemented is proving arduous and vexatious.
CalRecycle held an informal public workshop about SB 270 on Oct. 25, 2017, and Scott Smithline, the agency's director, approved a draft of the regulations to certify renewable bags on March 20.
The state's Office of Administrative Law published a notice of the proposals June 15. That began a formal 45-day public comment period.
At least 13 plastic bag producers and one non-profit have filed comments.
CalRecycle wants to submit final regulations and get OAL's approval in early 2019 and have certification fees in place by July 2019.
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery operates as CalRecycle with focus on the state's waste management, recycling and waste-reduction programs.
The Aug. 15 workshop is under the auspices of the department's materials management and local assistance division.
If major changes are contemplated, CalRecycle would provide an additional 45-day comment period.