Staff members at CalRecycle are weighing a range of comments about proposed regulations for the state's reusable-bag-law.
Plastic bag makers, recyclers and environmentalists have all taken issue with aspects of the current draft. But it now appears the parties are closer to agreement regarding a tiered pricing arrangement, consistency on certification and auditing requirements and the handling of proprietary information.
CalRecycle is "doing the best it can on a contentious issue," said Nicole Munoz, managing director for environmental certification services for Scientific Certification Systems, Inc., an Emeryville, Calif., firm that does third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification. "The biggest issue is standards development."
"Given CalRecycle's restrictions on enforcing the statute, we feel they have done a reasonable job engaging the various stakeholders and working within their authority to further the objectives of the bill," said Roxanne Spiekerman, executive vice president and general manager of Roplast Industries Inc.. a polyethylene film and bag maker in Oroville, Calif.
"I think the rule making will be completed while meeting most of the plastic industry's and environmental community's objectives," she said. "There will still be compromise."
SB 270 became effective Sept. 30, 2014. The law bans single-use carryout plastic grocery bags and creates a reusable grocery bag program under the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, which operates as CalRecycle.
The agency held an Aug. 15 workshop in Sacramento to hear comments on a draft of regulations leading toward full implementation of the controversial law. The hearing lasted 72 minutes.
The next draft of regulations should emerge in two to three months, said Paulina Kolic, SB 270 program for CalRecycle.
Californians Against Waste, a prime backer of SB 270, is working with CalRecycle in moving toward regulations. Executive Director Mark Murray and Policy Associate Melissa Romero represented the Sacramento-based environmental advocacy group at the hearing.
"I believe that we are all on the same page as you could see today," said Los Angeles-based lawyer Stephen Joseph, co-founder of the Coalition to Enforce SB 270.
On Dec. 27, Joseph sued 26 plastic bag processors and distributors to make sure everyone will be in compliance with SB 270. Judge Amy Hogue will hold a trial setting conference on Aug. 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
"I am hopeful by that time that we will be down to a handful of defendants, most or all of whom will be minor producers or distributors," Joseph said by email. "Almost all of the major defendants have now complied or are firmly on the path to compliance. Consequently, I will be filing many dismissals [without prejudice] on that day."
Joseph characterized the litigation as "wildly successful."
"We have gone from zero enforcement to full enforcement," he said. "The industry response has been excellent. The major producers and distributors very much want to see the law enforced. They do not want companies that cheat to enter the marketplace."
In his opinion, "the industry as a whole is on the same page as the environmental community that the post-consumer content provisions must be enforced," Joseph said.