Recycled content mandates are the most advanced form of circular economy policy, and usually the last measure to be passed. These measures require that certain products contain a specified amount of recycled material. In some cases, the legislation goes further and requires this to be “post-consumer recycled” material, as in the case of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which was introduced into the U.S. Congress in 2020. Alternatively, governments can enforce these content mandates in the form of a tax on any product that does not meet the standard.
Recently California instituted a minimum-recycled-content mandate for plastic beverage containers. It was the first state in many years to impose a minimum, but many others have followed since.
Is your business ready if your state is next? iSustain is here to help.
California isn’t the only state.
New Jersey and Washington also passed similar bills with recycled-content mandates. Those begin in 2023 and 2024, which means in just a year or two businesses will need to be able to meet the high requirements. For example, to meet California’s 15% PCR rate by 2022, U.S. reclaimers need an additional output of 800,000 tons of food-grade post-consumer PET and PE.
What is the purpose of the mandate?
The mandate aims at large corporations, which means businesses might struggle to meet the high demand for recycled resins required. The law states that manufacturers selling their containers in California are required to include an annual average of 15% post-consumer resin (PCR), which will increase to 25% in 2025 and 50% in 2030.
Recycled content mandates encourage circularity. Now packaging producers are required to source recycled material, generating demand and increasing prices for secondary materials. Higher secondary material pricing incentivizes waste and recycling companies to increase collections and spur sorters and recyclers to improve their technology to generate a higher-quality recycled material.
The food-contact Post Consumer Resin supply is limited.
RPET and recycled PE make up 75% of the total U.S. installed mechanical recycling capacity. In 2021 that meant 5 million tons, but only 20% of that was food grade. More than 55% of the total capacity is post-industrial plastic, but the mandate only accepts post-consumer plastic.
Post Consumer Resin pricing can be expensive.
More than virgin bottle-grade PET, food-grade RPET pellet prices have been at a premium for years now. As we learned at this year’s Plastics Recycling Conference that isn’t going to change. Brands’ costs will rise to meet market conditions and state mandates
Let iSustain help you prepare for the future!
These regulations are spreading, no matter how un-green you consider your state’s legislation. It’s better to prepare now than be sorry later. Reevaluate your waste streams, and give us a call at iSustain. We have the expertise and industry knowledge necessary to create custom solutions for you that will improve your bottom line and meet the spreading mandates.