Extended Producer Responsibility

ISRI applauds New Jersey passage of recycled content legislation

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New Jersey, USA, recently passed an ambitious recycled content bill. The long-discussed bill, which is now awaiting the governor's signature, aims to increase post-consumer recycled content in a variety of packaging products including rigid plastic containers, glass containers, paper, and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags; and prohibits the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging.

Starting in 2024, plastic beverage containers will need to contain at least 15% postconsumer recycled content and rigid plastic containers will need to contain at least 10%. The bill stipulates that these rates will rise incrementally over the years and cap at 50% by 2036 and 2050, respectively.
The bill not only focuses on plastic packaging. It also establishes a 35% standard for recycled content in glass bottles; a 20% standard for plastic carryout bags; a standard of between 20% and 40% for paper carryout bags, depending on size. Polystyrene packing peanuts, which have been already been banned in the state of Washington, will be banned from 2024.

Some industry advocates and manufacturers are critical of the bill. They point out that their business would be burdened too much and the requirements would be too high. Both critics and supporters of the recycled content bill see a significant shift in how the recycling system in New Jersey will have to operate to be able to prioritize recycled content.

A supporter of the bill, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), points out that the bill "reflects a strong commitment to not only increase the use of recycled content in packaging materials, but to develop a sustainable program with quantifiable metrics and realistic goals", they said in a statement. "This will help increase stakeholder commitment throughout the supply chain to ensure plastics are responsibly manufactured, collected, and recycled into new products. ISRI is excited about the opportunity the passage of A4676 presents for the state of New Jersey, and we stand ready to provide essential third-party advice and technical expertise in plastics recycling and manufacturing."