How to Help CA
By The Board of Directors,
HOW TO HELP CALIFORNIA REDUCE PACKAGING DISCARDS BY 50%
The California Legislature set a goal of reducing solid waste statewide 75% by 2020. Through its Manufacturers Challenge, CalRecycle (the state agency charged with implementing the goal) has asked the packaging industry to identify ways to reduce packaging sent to landfills by 50%.
A meeting held on January 5, 2016 was the fourth CalRecycle stakeholder meeting responding to this challenge. At the meeting, AMERIPEN delivered four strategies designed to help ensure that the state’s packaging recovery efforts will be both effective and cost efficient:
- Simplify and harmonize recycling messages to households and consumers. There are excellent tools that already exist and are available to be leveraged. These include the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle Label, the Recycling Partnership’s curbside toolkit, and the American Chemistry Council’s Recycle Your Plastics.
- Emphasize voluntary efforts until such time as additional data on the effectiveness of the state’s recently implemented organics and commercial recycling mandates are available. AMERIPEN noted that commercial and organic waste was the largest part of the state’s waste stream, and understanding the effectiveness of mandates on those materials would better inform effective interventions for future waste reduction.
- Expand the state’s energy policy in ways that compliment but do not replace existing recycling infrastructure. AMERIPEN noted that innovative technologies like pyrolysis and gasification can offer the state a unique advantage in addressing hard-to-recycle materials such as marine debris and multi-laminate packaging.
- Ensure that programs don’t inadvertently penalize one another. As an example, AMERIPEN emphasized the significant role packaging can play in reducing food waste.
AMERIPEN’s presentation addressed the changing waste stream and noted how the recovery system has changed significantly in the last decade: From a system that relied on 80% fiber and 20% containers to one which is now predominately 60% fiber and 40% containers. With constant and dynamic changes across the recycling system, it was noted that many states and companies are struggling with setting and attaining recycling goals. Thus, California is not unique in this challenge.
In closing, AMERIPEN asked CalRecycle to consider that both their goal and the challenges facing the entire U.S. recycling system are unprecedented, and there are no easy solutions. While making significant strides in recovery is a challenge faced across the country, AMERIPEN is committed to assisting in addressing this challenge with innovative, effective strategies and solutions.