Like plastics industry lobbyists, environmental groups and government officials expect a lot more legislation and activity this year around plastics, waste and environmental issues.
That's been the clear trend line. In 2021, for example, Maine and Oregon passed the country's first extended producer responsibility laws for packaging, opening the door to regulations that companies pay much more of the cost to recycle.
As well, governments in California, Washington state and New Jersey have all passed tough new mandates on recycled content in plastic packaging.
At a recent online conference, "Shifting Tides: Trends in Beverage Container Deposit and Packaging Legislation," environmentalists and state officials said they expect more of the same in 2022, including work with bottle bills.
"There was a breakthrough that happened with recycling legislation for packaging in 2021," said Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, which organized the Jan. 10 event. "It's been a year like none other in the 12 years that I've been in this job."
Plastics industry lobbyists have noted similar trends in their own looks ahead to 2022 in state and federal policy.
For their part, Collins and others at CRI's event said they see more legislators linking worries about climate change with poor recycling and lack of circularity in materials use.
As well, they said public concerns are driven by cities facing higher costs for recycling in the wake of China's 2018 National Sword ban on imports of scrap materials.
One state official sees skepticism among state legislators over industry failures to meet past commitments.
"The one thing I noticed, having been around the block for a couple of decades, is … a whole new level of skepticism towards industry, and in particular the plastics industry, which is really founded I believe on decades of broken promises and failed commitments," said David Allaway, a senior policy analyst in the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.