A local senator’s bill that creates a new product stewardship program for plastic packaging and food serviceware is among a set of bills proposed in this state legislative session focused on putting more responsibility for recycling on manufacturers.
Senate Bill 14, sponsored by State Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), would establish a new statewide product stewardship program responsible for the collection and management of plastic packaging and items such as single-use straws and plates.
“I think we need to put more responsibility back on producers to use packaging we can recycle,” Beyer told The Register-Guard last month. “It essentially says to producers either use materials that are readably recyclable … or make provisions to take it back.”
Previous coverage: Local legislators headed into challenging session with unfinished business
The bill would disallow the manufacture and sale of products covered by the proposed stewardship program in Oregon unless they are made predominantly of recyclable plastics on the list established by the Environmental Quality Commission or labeled they’re included in a plan for the stewardship program approved by the Department of Environmental Quality.
The bill prescribes penalties for violations of up to $10,000 per day for manufacturers and up to $100 per day for retailers. The program would be funded by manufacturers.
The organization designated to manage and fund the program would be responsible for providing collection locations statewide, advertising and setting its performance goals.
There are two other bills aimed at manufacturer responsibility planned for this session.
House Bill 2065 came out of a two-year recycling stakeholder committee process led by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Gov. Kate Brown is backing that bill, which calls for packaging companies to share the cost of recycling with governments and consumers. It would require companies that produce packaging, paper and disposable food serviceware to form a producer responsibility organization that would develop a plan for recycling all of the items on the statewide collection list and meeting a yet-to-be-determined goal for plastic recycling, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The organization would collect fees that would be used to pay for collection, processing, transportation and disposal of packaging material, consumer outreach and education and reimbursing state and governments for recycling costs as needed. The fee structure would be designed to incentivize companies to make packaging that is easy to recycle and causes minimal environmental impacts, according to OPB.
Lane County Waste Reduction Specialist Sarah Grimm served on the stakeholder committee responsible for HB 2065. She said their goal was improving recycling rates and environmental conditions, objectives where manufacturers should play a key role.
“The producers are the ones making the decision about how something is made and how it’s labeled, whether or not it’s going to suggest it’s recyclable somewhere in the world but can’t tell people if it’s recyclable in their community,” she said. “They have the most power to create a better system, and it starts with the manufacturing of products.”
Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, is sponsoring a similar bill, House Bill 2592, which would follow a similar structure but require packaging producers to pay for more of the state’s recycling system to incentivize them to change their packaging and reduce waste, OPB reported.
Sollman’s bill also sets specific requirements for recycling and reusing rigid and flexible plastic, glass, aluminum, steel and paper packaging. For example, it requires 60% of rigid plastic covered by the new program to be recycled or reused by 2030. It also sets requirements for how much recycled material needs to be used in future packaging.
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.