2023 Plastic Legislation

December 28, 2023

Review of laws and regulations for plastic in 2023!

As another year has passed, there have been plenty of new laws passed regarding plastic bans and plastic recycling. With legislation ranging from advanced recycling to reducing single-use plastic, there was plenty to keep up with regarding plastic in 2023. Here’s a recap of some of the big legislation that has been passed/proposed this year:

Single-use plastic bans have increased throughout the country over the past year. One of the major bills that was introduced this year was the ban on single-use bottles in Massachusetts. With this bill, any single-use bottles under 21 ounces will be banned for sale and distribution, though some will be kept on reserve for emergencies [1]. This would be the first statewide ban on a form of single-use plastics in Massachusetts and was created to reduce the amount of plastic pollution that is a major issue in Massachusetts [1]. Canada’s single-use plastic ban also went into effect this year as they are working towards zero plastic waste by 2030 [2]. While the manufacturing and import ban went into place in December of 2022, this December the ban on selling the items went into effect [2]. With both of these bans, other materials have been used as a substitute, but many are concerned about what the effects of utilizing those materials could be. 

Many states this year have also implemented advanced recycling legislation, including Indiana, Utah, and Kansas. Many states have passed laws in the past, but only three were enacted this year. Utah was the first to pass legislation back in March, with Kansas and Indiana in the following month. This will allow for harder-to-recycle plastics like films and wrappers to be recycled [3]. With these new laws in place, many more jobs and economic potential will be created [3]. 

Additionally, new Extended Producer Responsibility laws have been proposed and passed this year as well. In Washington state, a bill was proposed but not passed to have companies set up producer responsibility organizations to help limit and manage packaging waste [4]. New York also proposed new EPR legislation with three different bills: one created by Governor Kathy Hochul and two from the Senate. The one from Governor Hochul proposes fees ranging from $500-$25,000, depending on the size of the company to make them responsible for funding the end of life for their products [5]. The bill also requires rigid plastic to have a minimum of 20% recycled content by 2024 and increase the percentage by 10% each year until content reaches 50% [5]. One bill from the senate would create a fund of over $1 million to help improve recycling, including upgrading infrastructure along with working towards reducing packaging [5]. The other bill proposed by the senate would require producers to decrease packaging by 10 percent every two years and would increase recycling rates by 50% five years after bill implementation, 80% eight years after bill implementation, and 90% twelve years after bill implementation [5]. The required recycled contents mirror those of the recycling rates [5]. 

At the federal level, two different bills were proposed in 2023: the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (RIAA) and the Recycling and Composting Accessibility Act (RCAA). With low recycling rates across the country, the goal of both of these was to increase recycling throughout the country by getting the EPA involved [6]. With the RIAA, the EPA would provide grants to help with recycling, especially in poorer communities [6]. The bill would also set a budget of $150 million a year for recycling initiatives. The RCAA focuses more on increasing nation-wide composting [6]. 

2023 has been a busy year of proposed and passed plastic legislation, and it would not be surprising to see the same trend in 2024. While many states have passed laws this year, there have been no federal laws and regulations passed regarding plastics. However, the Break Free from Plastics Pollution Act was reintroduced in 2023 and could gain momentum in 2024. With this in mind, it is important to stay up to date on any information regarding plastic in 2024.

[1] Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey announces ban on single-use plastic bottles (msn.com)

[2] GOLDSTEIN: Canada’s single use plastics ban means more garbage | Toronto Sun

[3] Utah Becomes 22nd State to Enact Advanced Recycling Legislation to Help End Plastic Waste – American Chemistry Council

[4] Washington’s WRAP Act, including EPR and bottle bill plans, won’t move forward this year | Waste Dive

[5] New York lawmakers consider three packaging EPR bills (resource-recycling.com)

[6] Federal bills for recycling infrastructure grants, composting strategies make a comeback | Waste Dive

For 55 years, Placon has been a leading designer and manufacturer of custom and stock plastic packaging for the food, medical, and retail markets. Placon has manufacturing operations in Madison, WI; Elkhart, IN; Plymouth, MN; and West Springfield, MA, and currently ranked in Plastics News 2020 Thermoformers Ranking Top 20. Placon delivers packaging breakthroughs that inspire better engagement between people and products with industry leading innovation and award-winning packaging designs. For more information, visit www.placon.com.