"It's just a reiteration. … We made it stronger. We made it very clear. We wanted it to be very clear that at this point in time, degradable additives are not something that the plastic recycling industry can absorb in any way, shape or form," he said. "There is no wiggle room."
APR pointed to recent discussions in a California Senate committee regarding Senate Bill 1232 as a particular impetus to reiterate its stance.
"Existing law prohibits the sale or offering for sale of a product that is labeled as 'biodegradable,' 'degradable' or 'decomposable' and prohibits implying that a product will break down, fragment, biodegrade or decompose in a landfill or other environment unless the product meets one of several specified standards relating to environmental marketing claims," the Senate's counsel states as part of the bill.
The bill proposes to allow a manufacture to make such claims "if the product, among other things, does not contain an intentionally added ingredient determined by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to present a risk to human health from dermal or oral exposure" and there is "competent and reliable evidence supporting a claim that it is 'biodegradable,' 'degradable' or 'decomposable.'"
Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Redondo Beach) is sponsoring the legislation, which recently had a hearing in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Allen called the bill "a work in progress."
"The problem, I think it's been discussed, is we just don't have a good standard and we're just trying to convene stakeholders from all sorts of different perspectives, some of whom you've heard voice concern about the bill, to find a better standard," he said.
"We're seeking to set the standard here. It's hard. It's technical. There's a lot of science that we are now able to turn to that didn't exist even 10, 15, 20 years ago that is helping to guide this negotiation," Allen said during the hearing.
Ben Kogan is head of sustainability and policy for Cove, a California company that is working to develop a water bottle made from polyhydroxyalkanoate resin. He testified in support of the creation of standards that he said would allow his company to describe the benefits of this biodegradable plastic.
"Imagine being told that it is illegal in California, one of the most environmentally forward-looking states in this country, for you to label your product with an explanation of its benefits. In a way, it's understandable; the term biodegradable has been misused and abused by unscrupulous actors," Kogan told the committee.
"SB-1232 seeks to corrects this. This bill's purpose is to allow replacement to plastic products to market themselves on their merits," he said.
APR said there are state laws in California, Alabama and North Carolina that prohibit labeling a plastic product both degradable and recyclable.