The Washington debate seems like it could head in new directions.
Christman, for example, said ACC is open to discussions about federal legislation with a fee on foodservice packaging, applied somewhere at the wholesale level, that it first proposed to California state lawmakers earlier this summer to raise $100 million there to finance waste management.
"We would be interested in talking to legislators about that," he said.
The plastics association said if Congress puts fees on any containers, the fees should cover all packaging materials, not just plastic.
The Plastics Industry Association also told Congress that it would support voluntary, industry-led programs or public-private partnerships aimed at increasing the recovery of materials, including use of post-consumer recycled content or bioplastics, as long as industry is involved in their creation and the programs are sustainable.
As well, the association told lawmakers that chemical recycling technologies "offer promising possibilities" for harder-to-recycle resins.
ACC's Christman said chemical recycling could mean more recycled content in plastic products. But environmental groups told lawmakers they did not support chemical recycling or waste-to-energy incineration.
The Lowenthal aide said they're still analyzing the more than 100 comments they received and has "seen a lot of good faith efforts," including in proposals from industry.
It's not clear what path legislation might take or how different proposals might be combined. Other lawmakers have called for EPA to write a national recycling strategy.
Christman said the new Save Our Seas Act "would probably be the one that gets the most attention."
"The important part of the Save Our Seas Act is it has strong bipartisan support and has a history of passing," Christman said.
But the Lowenthal aide and environmental groups said that while they support the latest Save Our Seas bill, it was too limited. Focusing on recycling infrastructure is only working on the "back end," the aide said.
Lowenthal "is trying to address the issue holistically. It's not something that is just addressing the recycling infrastructure," the aide said. "It is past time for us to try to do something."