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American Chemistry Council Comments on SB 54 and the Outstanding Anti-Plastics Ballot Measure

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Matthew Kastner
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WASHINGTON (June 29, 2022) — The California Legislature is currently considering SB 54.  The following statement may be attributed to Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

 ACC engaged in good faith negotiations on SB 54 for more than 18 months to find a reasonable and pragmatic path forward that keeps plastics in our economy in a sustainable manner and out of the environment by accelerating circularity. We appreciate the many hours Senator Allen and his staff have worked on this complex bill.

Although ACC was actively participating in SB 54 discussions, after careful review of the final legislation we believe it is not the optimal legislation to drive California towards a circular economy.

As an industry, we are concerned with several elements of SB 54 that require further clarification and specificity to improve its implementation. Specifically, the definition of recycling needs to be improved and made clearer so new, innovative technologies that keep hard to recycle plastic out of the environment and landfills count in achieving the circularity goals in the legislation. Without new, innovative recycling technologies, it will not be possible to meet the demand for recycled plastic in food-grade applications. Also, last-minute carve outs for certain materials could ultimately jeopardize an effective recycling system that is supported by all the materials going through it. And finally, as global brands and industries commit to using more recycled material in their products, the legislation places an 8% cap on post-consumer recycled content to meet the requirements in the legislation. We believe future legislation or regulations should incentivize the use of more post-consumer recycled content in plastic packaging and take into consideration the climate impact of switching to materials with a higher carbon footprint.

America’s plastic makers have been deeply committed and are investing in a range of technologies that are transitioning the industry and its business models from a linear approach to a more circular approach. We are working towards a goal that 100% of U.S. plastic packaging is reused, recycled, or recovered by 2040. We strongly support a carefully designed producer responsibility system or “EPR” financing mechanism that commits money to build recycling infrastructure, with all funds collected invested in the recycling system for all materials. Federally, we have called for a 30% recycled plastic standard for all U.S. plastics packaging by 2030. Internationally, we support UNEA’s development of a legally binding global agreement to keep used plastic out of our oceans by building the necessary waste management infrastructure on a country-by-country basis. We have already announced investments of nearly $8 billion dollars to scale and grow advanced recycling technologies and legislation should support, not hinder, these private sector investments.

Nevertheless, we will work constructively with lawmakers and CalRecycle to support appropriate implementation of SB 54, and we will support subsequent legislation to make the necessary improvements to help ensure the intent of SB 54 is carried out effectively.

However, ACC remains concerned that the anti-plastics November ballot initiative has not been withdrawn. It is estimated to raise consumer costs by nearly $9 billion annually while only investing 30% of that money to enhance the state’s recycling capabilities. While we appreciate many of the comments made by supporters of SB 54 that the ballot will be withdrawn, it’s beyond time for the ballot measure proponents to make their intentions clear and withdraw the ballot. Enactment of SB 54 and potential passage of the anti-plastics initiative would result in confusion, uncertainty and implementation chaos that would ultimately hurt California consumers.

Despite SB 54’s flaws, a worse outcome for Californians is the ballot measure. If it is not withdrawn, our industry is resolved to educate voters of the tax measure’s flaws through a strong opposition campaign.  

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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