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SB 54 _ California Selects CAA as PRO and Other Updates

Updated: Apr 13

Within the last month, California has made significant strides toward its bid to create a circular economy for certain packaging and food service ware materials. On January 8, 2024, California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (“CalRecycle”) announced that Circular Action Alliance (“CAA”) has been selected as California’s new Producer Responsibility Organization (“PRO”) under the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (“SB 54” or the “Act”).[1] 


This announcement comes on the heels of two other major SB 54 developments: CalRecycle’s publication of the list required under SB 54 of material categories that are recyclable or compostable[2] and CalRecycle’s release of the text of draft regulations for SB 54.[3] 




SB 54 places responsibility on producers of single-use packaging and plastic single-use food service ware to reach ambitious recycling rates (30% by 2028, ramping up to 65% by 2032) and on producers of plastic covered materials to meet source reduction requirements ( 10% by 2027, ramping up to 25% by 2032.)  In addition, all covered materials sold in or into California must be recyclable or compostable by 2032.


Producers of covered materials are required to join the PRO (unless they satisfy stringent eligibility requirements for individual compliance). The PRO is responsible for a broad variety of tasks under SB 54, including funding and overseeing improved statewide recycling rates, meeting source reduction requirements, and assessing and collecting various fees from producers – including eco-modulated fees (i.e., fees structured to promote specific policy objectives, including use of certain materials over other materials).


Selection of the PRO


CAA is a non-profit organization founded by eighteen leading companies in the food, beverage, consumer goods, and retail industries in response to the passage of EPR laws in California, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon. Its objective is to serve as a PRO in all states with EPR packaging and paper laws. CAA already serves as the single PRO for Colorado and intends to apply to serve as a PRO in Oregon and Maine when submissions are due under those states’ programs.  CAA is also involved as a PRO in Maryland, which has authorized a study to evaluate the development of an EPR packaging program.


Publication of the CMC List


On December 28, 2023, CalRecyle published a list of covered material categories deemed recyclable or compostable (subject to other requirements) as required by SB 54.  Pub. Res. Code (PRC) §§ 42061(c) and 42061(d). The Covered Material Category or “CMC” list identifies almost one hundred covered materials categorized by class, type, and form.


For example, materials within the material class  “Paper and Fiber” in the type of a “Multi-Material Laminate” and in the form of  “Gable-Top Cartons” are identified as being neither potentially recyclable nor compostable (i.e., an “N” for No in the last two columns of the list). A milk carton made of paper laminated by layers of another material is an example of a specific product that might fall within this specific category of class, type, and form.


As required by SB 54, the official CMC list with all material categories must be published by July 1, 2024 and updated regularly thereafter. PRC § 42061(a)(1).  The CMC list will be used for several purposes, including the basis for data requests made of producers and for the fee structure for assessment of certain fees by the PRO.


Draft Regulations


The text of CalRecycle’s draft regulations was also released on December 28, 2023. The draft regulations address a broad range of issues that will be significant to stakeholders – including how CalRecycle proposes to allocate responsibility for covered materials among various categories of producers responsible for the same materials in the supply chain.


CalRecycle has announced a February 1, 2024 question-and-answer session on the draft regulatory text.[4] The purpose of the session is to provide an opportunity for the public to ask clarifying questions about the draft regulations in advance of the official comment period.  CalRecycle expects to initiate the formal rulemaking process over the next few months, which will trigger a 45-day comment period.  Under the Act, the regulations must be finalized by January 1, 2025.


Stakeholders may want to use this time to review the language of the proposed text for the draft regulations and prepare for CalRecycle’s Q&A session in advance of the formal rulemaking process. 




[4]  Stakeholders interested in receiving updates from CalRecycle on SB 54 and the Q&A session may subscribe to the listserv here:


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