The New Jersey Legislature is looking at requiring some containers be manufactured with a minimum amount of recycled materials as a way to reduce plastic pollution, reports NJ Spotlight.
The issue arose during a June 17 committee hearing on a bill (S-2515) that aims to require certain amounts of recycled plastic, paper and glass to be used in plastic and glass carryout containers, carryout bags and trash bags.
Gary Sondermeyer, vice president of operations at the Bayshore Recycling Corp. in Woodbridge, New Jersey, called the bill the most comprehensive blueprint for establishing a recycling market ever attempted in New Jersey.
“The point is to get as much of this stuff out of landfills and incinerators,’’ Sen. Bob Smith, chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and bill’s sponsor, told NJ Spotlight. He added it also would make recycling more feasible here while helping out municipalities who have seen recycling costs spike because the recyclables they collect end up in garbage dumps.
The legislation has won tentative backing from a range of business groups, although several had concerns that the percentages of recycling content mandated by the bill are not technically feasible. Environmental organizations also supported the measure, but only if it does not act as a substitute for a different Smith bill that would ban single-use plastic bags and tote bags.
According to the article, that bill (S-864) won passage from the Senate this past March but has yet to be taken up by the Assembly. It is one of the top legislative priorities for many prominent environmental groups but has faltered in previous legislative sessions.
Alex Ambrose of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, endorsed the recycled-content bill but expressed concern, echoed by others, that the measure could undermine prospects for the single-use plastic ban.
“We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic single-use bag problem. The single-use plastic bag is not a recycling problem. It’s a manufacturing problem,’’ she said.
Some business groups did not oppose the bill, saying their members are already trying to increase the amount of recycled content in various products like containers and bags. But some of the bill’s proposed recycled content requirements — ranging from 10 percent to 35 percent are just not feasible, they said.
Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey, urged the committee to establish a special committee to look at the specific recycled-content requirements outlined in the bill.
“What we’re saying is let’s do it the right way,’’ said Hart, speaking for the plastics manufacturing industry, which is not opposed to the bill. Lawmakers need to explore what is technically feasible and what is not, he said.