Public comment invited on proposed rule to boost recycled content in plastic bags, containers

A key piece of Washington’s 2021 plastics law aims to reduce the production of new plastic for consumer packaging by requiring producers of certain product categories to include a minimum amount of post-consumer recycled content (PCRC) in trash bags and plastic packaging containers.

The Washington Department of Ecology is now asking the public to review and comment on a proposed rule that establishes the agency’s oversight and enforcement procedures for the PCRC portions of the plastics law, including the agency’s method for calculating producer fees.

The public review and comment period ends on July 1, 2023, and gives the public the opportunity to participate in an important process that will establish key processes and provide clarity that helps affected producers comply with the law. Ecology will also hold two online public hearings on June 8 and 15, 2023, where attendees can ask questions, learn more about the rule, and provide verbal testimony.

More information, including links to the proposed rule, registration information for the public hearings, and the online comment portal are available on Ecology’s rule website.

Ecology will review all input on the proposed rule after the comment period ends and publish responses this fall. After the rule is finalized, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Plastic pollution is pervasive across Washington and poses a threat to human health, wildlife and the environment. The 2021 Plastics Law establishes PCRC minimum requirements– one of the key recommendations in Washington’s 2020 plastics study.

Utilizing PCRC in the manufacturing of new products reduces cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% compared to emissions from the use of virgin material, according to a one study. Using existing PCRC resin also supports end-markets that boost the value of plastics placed in curbside recycling bins.

Washington is among several states to pass laws requiring producers to include recycled content in product packaging. The first PCRC requirements began this year as producers of most beverages and trash bags were required to include at least 15% recycled content in the plastic bottles and bags. Over time, the minimum requirements will increase and apply to a greater number of products, including plastic containers for personal care products and household cleaning products, plastic bottles for dairy beverages, and small plastic wine bottles.

More information about the 2021 plastics law is available at Ecology’s website.

Visit Ecology’s PCRC rule website to comment on the proposed PCRC rule, learn more about public hearings, and sign up for email updates.

— Article and photos courtesy Washington State Department of Ecology

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