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CalRecycle Begins to Implement California's Plastic and Packaging Act

Updated: May 3, 2023



On February 28, 2023, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle, held an informational workshop for SB 54, the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 42070 et al. The workshop focused on the producer responsibility advisory board (Advisory Board) and the needs assessment components of the bill. Over 170 participants joined by Zoom, with additional engagement through the webcast and in-person.


Per the Act, CalRecycle will establish an Advisory Board consisting of 13 voting and 3 non-voting members as nominated from a variety of organizations. The Advisory Board will identify barriers and solutions to achieving the goals of SB 54, as well as advise CalRecycle and producers. The Advisory Board’s composition is specified in SB 54, ranging from a representative of an ocean advocacy organization to a representative of a materials recovery facility (MRF). Four voting members must be from manufacturers of a covered material. Applications were originally due by March 24 but CalRecycle recently extended the deadline to April 2, 2023.


CalRecycle is also beginning to generate a needs assessment as required by SB 54 – with a final version due no later than the end of 2025 and updates every five years or as needed. The needs assessment will focus on (a) understanding the current status of covered materials, and (b) determining the steps needed to achieve the goals of SB 54 by the statutory deadlines. Because producers must have a 10% source reduction by January 1, 2027 and increase recycling rates of covered materials to 30% by January 1, 2028, the needs assessment is likely to arrive after producers must make initial decisions on how best to comply.


Some of the issues raised in a Q&A at the workshop include the following:


· A company may have a representative on the PRO board and another on the Advisory Board, but one individual may not be on both.

· Part of the needs assessment will include research into balancing the cost to reach SB 54’s goals in relation to the costs to transition away from covered materials.

· Out-of-state MRFs' capacities will be included in the needs assessment, which will generally aim for a holistic approach, though only in-state MRFs are under CalRecycle’s jurisdiction.

· Accommodations for producers currently exceeding SB 54 goals will be workshopped over the next two years.

· There will also be workshops on how to handle hard-to-compost materials without nearby facilities capable of handling them.

· Materials determined to not have recycling capacity in-state will be addressed in the needs assessment. There is a statutory requirement for responsible end markets, so out-of-state facilities will need to meet certain criteria if local jurisdictions want to market recyclables abroad.

· To achieve the 25% source reduction requirement for covered materials required by 2032, switching to post-consumer recycled products is an alternative to reductions in weight or count. CalRecycle will hold workshops on this topic.

· The needs assessment will look at potential incentives for manufacturers using in-state manufactured packaging.

· The SB 54 CalRecycle team is still being put together but should be fully staffed by summer 2023.


Businesses subject to SB 54 should begin preparing for compliance. The next workshop is scheduled for March 30 at 10am Pacific.


For more information, contact Catherine Johnson at cjohnson@egcounsel.com.









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