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Plastics under seige in Massachusetts

A plastics recycling bill has been introduced in the Massachusetts state Senate that would, if passed, doom the sale of most plastic packaging. The bill bans plastic packaging for consumer products unless at least 80% of Massachusetts residents have access to plastics recycling facilities by December 31, 2000.

The requirement applies to all plastics-types 1 through 7 under Society of the Plastics Industry's (SPI) resin code scheme. Opponents of the bill say it is practically and economically unrealistic. "The reality is in most places there is no infrastructure designed to handle plastic recycling beyond bottles" said Roger Bernstein senior director of government affairs and regional operations for the SPI and the American Plastics Council. "Most communities limit bottles to types 1 and 2 [polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene]." In addition there is little or no demand for much of the recycled material he said. "It's unlikely that any flexible packaging other than plastic grocery sacks could meet this requirement" observed Rick Thornberg director of government relations for the Flexible Packaging Assn. The plastics industry is uniting with retailers and other opponents to fight the measure. Although it will be considered Bernstein predicted that the legislature will give more attention to a bill that would expand the state's bottle bill to include containers of noncarbonated beverages. The law now covers only soft drinks and beer.

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