Based on the muted reaction, it looked like California Attorney General Rob Bonta took the plastics industry by surprise on Nov. 2 when he challenged plastic bag makers to prove that they aren't misleading consumers about bag recyclability.
But it shouldn't have been a surprise. Maybe the timing was a shock, but we've known this was coming for a long time.
Nearly a year ago, the California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling sent a letter to Bonta saying that its review of recycling messages on bags and film turned up dozens of violations of state and federal laws.
The commission sent a letter to CalRecycle and Bonta on Dec. 3, 2021, giving 80 examples of companies selling flexible plastic packaging in California with misleading recyclability claims.
"Based on existing California law, it is our opinion that recyclable labels used on many plastic bags and films in California described below are not legal … and are contributing to consumer confusion and contamination," the commission wrote. "We write to request that California's existing laws on labeling of plastic bags be enforced."