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Can You Sell Plastic in California?

December 15, 2022
 

What are the state’s current regulations, and what can we expect in the future?

By Catherine Haub

Last week, Los Angeles banned Styrofoam products from being distributed in restaurants as a step towards being more of a zero-waste city starting April 23, 2023 [1]. Los Angeles is not the first city in the state to do this; San Diego just passed legislation recently, and San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland have as well [2]. Though this is huge, it is not surprising as California has been making moves towards reducing single-use plastic and boosting recycling efforts, including legislation that was passed earlier this year [3]. But what do these regulations entail, and what should producers do to prepare for the future?


In June, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 54, arguably one of the strictest EPR laws to be passed. The bill requires all packaging to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, reducing plastic packaging by 25% and 65% of single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in 10 years [4]. To place responsibility on producers, the bill also requires members of the plastic industry to pay a total of $5 billion over ten years to help reduce the environmental impacts of plastic [4]. Regarding recycling, 30% of plastic packaging should be recyclable by January 2028, 40% by January 2030, and 65% by January 2032 [4]. This is a jump from 9% of plastic recycled in 2018 [4]. California also requires plastic producers to pay a total of $5 billion over ten years to help dull the environmental impacts of plastic [4]. Other laws and regulations have been passed in response to this bill, including the ban on single-use bottles in hotels for bathroom products beginning in January 2023 [5], and a ban on single-use plastic produce bags to promote the use of compostable or recycled paper bags with the passing of SB 1046 [6]. With these current regulations and California’s goals for 2032, it would not be surprising to see other legislation passed to achieve these goals.
As a producer, this can be a lot to take in as so much is changing in the present, and it is unknown what other laws and regulations will be seen in the future. Out of all of this, there is one clear thing: California wants to say goodbye to single-use plastics and reduce the impacts of plastic packaging. As stated previously, the goal is to reduce plastic packaging by 25% in 10 years, and this objective is achievable in different ways. A few ways include reducing the size of the package or ensuring that the packaging is reusable or refillable [7]. Producers could also switch to a different type of material, such as moving from polystyrene to PET which can be recycled. Many cities in California want to stop using polystyrene, switching could be a solution for producers. Producers can also switch from polyvinyl chloride to polypropylene since polypropylene is reusable. One of the main focuses of this law is to reuse the plastic we currently have, so switching to a recyclable material would be one way to do that. At Placon, we offer many PET solutions that are both food safe and recyclable to help fit in with these new regulations. Need a solution for heated or frozen food? We also offer many different polypropylene packaging solutions to fit our customer’s needs. With stock options and customization capabilities available, we can offer support as you navigate through these new regulations.

[1] Los Angeles officials ban Styrofoam products in move toward ‘zero-waste’ city (msn.com)

[2] California’s two largest cities ban plastic foam (msn.com)

[3] New California plastics law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom | CNN

[4] Governor Newsom Signs Legislation Cutting Harmful Plastic Pollution to Protect Communities, Oceans and Animals | California Governor

[5] California Bans Single-Use Plastics In Hotel Rooms (forbes.com)

[6] California banning another popular plastic bag from all grocery stores | Fox News

[7] California sets nation’s toughest plastics reduction rules : NPR

ABOUT PLACON
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.