On January 18, 2022, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy sign in law one invoice establishing post-consumer recycled content (PRC) requirements for rigid plastic containers, glass containers, paper and plastic carrier bags and plastic trash bags (Recycled Content Act or Act) . The law also prohibits the sale of polystyrene bulk packaging, commonly known as “packaging peanuts”. It was inspired, in part, by China’s decision in 2018 to no longer accept imports of recycled materials.1 Sponsors of The Law, General Assembly members Annette Quijana, D-Union, Mila M. Jasey, D-Essex, and John F. McKeon, D-Essex, explained that “[o]in recent years, other countries such as China have decided to stop buying most plastic waste. New Jersey has the opportunity to improve our market for plastics, which will allow us to be at the forefront of a recycling industry in transition. »2
The law establishes the following PRC requirements for certain items sold, offered for sale, or used in association with such sale or offer for sale in the State of New Jersey:
- Rigid plastic containers: 10% PRC by 2024. Every three years thereafter, the percentage of PRC must increase by 10% until it reaches 50% PRC.3
- Plastic beverage containers: 15% PRC by 2024. Every three years thereafter, the percentage of PRC must increase by 5% until it reaches 50% PRC.4
- Plastic take-out bags: 20% CPR by 2024. By 2027, 40% CPR.5
- Plastic garbage bags: PRC requirements vary depending on bag thickness:
- Plastic garbage bags more than 0.70 millimeters (“mm”) thick, but less than 0.80 mm thick: 5% GRP by 2024 and 10% GRP by 2027
- Plastic garbage bags more than 0.80 mm thick but less than 1.00 mm thick: 10% GRP by 2024 and 20% GRP by 2027
- Plastic garbage bags over 1.00mm thick: 10% GRP by 2024 and 40% GRP by 20276
Glass containers and paper bags
- Glass containers: 35% PRC by 2024. This requirement is reduced to 25% PRC by 2024 for manufacturers who certify with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) that their use of PRC is composed of at least 50% mixed-color cullet (broken glass or scrap that can be remelted).7 8
- Paper take-out bags: 40% CPR by 2024, except that paper bags containing eight pounds or less must only contain 20% CPR by 2024.9
The law allows NJDEP to review and adjust each of these PRC requirements taking into account market conditions, recycling rates, availability of recycled materials, capacity of recycling infrastructure, or processing, progress made by manufacturers in meeting PRC requirements and any other relevant factors.ten It also authorizes the NJDEP to impose civil penalties of up to $50,000 for non-compliance with PRC requirements, which penalties may be levied in summary proceedings pursuant to the enforcement of the 1999 sentences.11 Further, “Any person who knowingly, willfully or recklessly makes a false or misleading statement on any certification or registration subject to the [NJDEP] in accordance with the [Recycled Content Law] must, on conviction, be guilty of a felony of the third degree and . . . liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and restitution.”12
Notably, a number of products traditionally stored in plastic containers are exempt from the recycled content law, including dairy products, plant-based dairy alternatives, medical foods, foods for special dietary use and formulas. for infants.13 More generally, with the exception of plastic or glass beverage containers, all food packaging and containers will be exempt from PRC requirements for five years.14
For manufacturers having difficulty meeting the requirements of the PRC, the law offers a process for requesting a waiver. The NJDEP may grant a waiver if it finds any of the following:
- The manufacturer cannot meet the requirements of the PRC and remain in compliance with the requirements of the United States Food and Drug Administration, or any similar state or federal rules or regulations.
- It is technically not possible for the manufacturer to meet the requirements of the PRC.
- The manufacturer cannot comply with the requirements of the PRC due to insufficient availability of recycled materials or a substantial interruption in the supply of recycled materials.
- The manufacturer cannot comply for any other reason acceptable to the NJDEP.15
A waiver request must be supported by documentation from a federal or state agency or certified third-party expert showing that the manufacturer cannot comply. If a waiver is granted, however, NJDEP may require the waived manufacturer to prepare and submit an alternative compliance plan showing that it is taking all reasonable steps to comply.16
The law will also require all manufacturers to register with the NJDEP, pay a registration fee,17 and keep detailed records.18 Beginning three years and six months after the law is enacted, and annually thereafter, manufacturers must certify to the NJDEP that their plastic products do or do not meet or are exempt from PRC requirements.19
The Recycled Content Act is one of a series of recent laws and regulations signaling a move away from reliance on plastic products. For example, in November 2021, New Jersey enacted a law partially banning single-use plastic straws unless customers specifically request them.20 Regulated companies can expect similar laws in the future. At this time, manufacturers and users of plastic packaging and containers in New Jersey should carefully review the Recycled Content Act and ensure compliance with its requirements to the extent possible or provide NJDEP with a inability to comply.
3. To see https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Bills/2020/S3000/2515_R5.HTM, in art. 3(a)(1)-(2).
4. View ID. dried up. 4(a)(1)-(2).
5. View ID. dried up. 7(a)-(b).
6. View ID. dried up. 8(a)(1)-(2).
7. The statute defines “mixed color cullet” as “cullet that does not meet the standard specifications of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for color mixing of color-sorted, post-filled glass as raw material for the manufacture of glass containers.”
8. To see https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Bills/2020/S3000/2515_R5.HTMin Section 5(a).
9. View ID. in 6th grade.
ten. View ID. dried up. 9.
11. View ID. dried up. 16(e).
12. View ID.
13. View ID. dried up. 10(a).
14. View ID. dried up. 10(b)(1).
15. View ID. dried up. 11.
16. View ID. dried up. 12.
17. View ID. dried up. 13.
18. View ID. dried up. 14.
19. View ID.
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