California eases up

It seems like almost the impossible has happened in California, where both industry and environmental organizations have praised a new plan adopted by California regulators aimed at increasing the state's plastic container recycling rate.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) decided March 25 to implement a cooperative approach to encourage companies to increase plastics recycling, rather than concentrating on enforcement actions. The state's rate fell to 23.2% in 1996, below the 25% level required by state law, theoretically triggering possible enforcement actions against companies. Companies can avoid penalties of up to $150ꯠ if they use 25% recycled content in their materials, can show 10% source reduction or make reusable containers. Manufacturers and users of food, beverage and cosmetics packaging are exempt from the law, although they remain part of the recycling rate calculations. According to Plastics News, CIWMB Chairman Dan Pennington acknowledged that his agency needs to cooperate more with the industry through the American Plastics Council and instructed his staff to develop a report on ways to provide markets for recycled plastics.

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