On June 30, 2022, California governor Gavin Newsom signed state Senate Bill (SB) 54, enacting the “Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act.” The Act phases in a ban on non-recyclable single-use plastics by 2032, and requires that threshold proportions of single-use items sold as “recyclable” will actually be recycled. Its implementation will make use of “extended producer responsibility” mechanism similar to those used in California and elsewhere for other enhanced recycling programs (I’ve written about these before, most recently HERE and HERE). The new Act will be overseen by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The new Act complements a variety of other state programs, many also overseen by CalRecycle. The remainder of this note discusses SB 54’s provisions.Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
On June 20, 2022, the government of Canada published “Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations”, which will ban the manufacture and importation of most single-use plastics effective December 20, 2022, with some delayed deadlines to December 20, 2023. Bans on sale will phase in between December 20, 2023 and December 20, 2025. These rules are an important part of national efforts to reduce the manufacture and use of plastics, in order to reduce both resources used to manufacture them, and pollution when they are disposed or discarded. These new regulations are the most far-reaching of global efforts to date (as a narrower example, I wrote about California’s Microplastics Policy HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes the new Canadian regulations.Read More
On May 4, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice of a proposed consent decree in litigation brought by the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). EPA proposes to issue a decision responding to a petition filed by CBD in 2014, about whether to list discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). CBD filed the suit early in 2021, after EPA had taken no action on its petition for seven years, claiming that the agency’s inaction violated a duty to act. EPA is now ready to commit to issue a proposed decision no later than January 20, 2023, and a final decision by April 12, 2024.
Discharges of plastics into the environment are steadily increasing, both in aggregate amounts and in associated environmental and health concerns. The United Nations has estimated that plastic debris accounts for at least 85 percent of total marine waste; an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans annually, and on current trends this will triple by 2040. In response to these concerns, the state of California is creating laws and regulations intended to reduce plastics discharges in the state. In addition to plastics recycling requirements (the state “bottle bill” and others), California has created a focus on “microplastics.” In February 2022, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) adopted a new Statewide Microplastics Strategy (the Strategy); the rest of this note provides general background on California’s approaches to plastics and microplastics, and summarizes the Strategy.