Comments for the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Post-consumer Recycled Content Bill S2515
March 4, 2021
Given that there was no opportunity to testify, below are Clean Water Action's comments about S2515. Clean Water Action supports the post-consumer recycled content bill with a few remaining concerns.
Clean Water Action first and foremost advocates for programs that prevent waste before it is created. We promote reusables over single-use disposables whenever possible. The bag, foam, and straws bill (S864) signed into law in November was a critical first step. Thank you Senator Smith for leading that effort.
Where we are producing wate that can be recovered for reuse and/or turned into a new product, we should. In this way we reduce the injustices and health harms of burying and burning it in polluting facilities that are largely located in or near low income and people of color communities. In thinking about the "3 R's" of solid waste (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), now "Redesign" is often added to highlight the fact that manufacturers and corporate polluters have a role to play in reducing waste generation and its corresponding harms. Post-consumer recycled content requirements are one of the emerging "redesign" elements. S2515 is a step in the right direction.
California's recycled content laws and other innovations are already happening. We can learn from their experience and do even better in the Garden State as we did with S864. This is why Clean Water Action is concerned about the extended timeline outlined in the amended bill for reaching increasing recycled content percentages. It will take New Jersey over ten years longer than California to reach 50% recycled content for rigid plastic containers and even longer for other plastics.
Innovations in packaging and container reuse are already taking off (like Terracycle's Loop Store and more). We should not wait or leave products exempt for so long. At this rate, we'll have 100% electric vehicles before we even get to 50% recycled content. Today the DEP commented that this rate is realistic. This may appear realistic given the DEP's comments regarding New Jersey's current lack of supply and infrastructure, however, the implementation of this law will not unfold in a vacuum over the next several years. Given the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis, Clean Water Action expects several additional policy steps and innovations to improve supply and infrastructure concerns and allow the timeline to move faster. S2515 is only one piece of the solution and should set benchmarks based on the assumption that further actions will be both required and realized.
Regarding the new section on compostable and biodegradable packaging, Clean Water Action supports dedicating research grants to the analysis of these materials. Studying these materials is a good first step to determine best practices. However, since the intent of this bill is to creat a stronger market for post-consumer recyeled materials and compostables do not fit that purpost, this proposed new section should not really remain in S2515 or it should be clarified.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Clean Water Action looks forward to continuted collaboration as this bill progresses through the process.
Maura Toomey, Zero Waste Organizer