More Plastics Crackdown: Packaging is going to look a lot different in California, and it will be on the producer’s dime.
Late last Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the boldest extended producer responsibility, or EPR, packaging bill the U.S. has ever seen.
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Though Maine and Oregon already have producer responsibility laws, California’s will be the most ambitious in the nation, going much further than existing laws like the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989.
SB 54 will require single-use packaging (including metals) to be recyclable or compostable, leading to a significant cut in plastics use. In particular, the bill would require not less than 65 percent of plastic covered material to be recycled on and after Jan. 1, 2032. Additionally, the law requires producers to register, track, audit and produce an annual report or be subject to fines. Plastic producers will also foot the bill on recycling infrastructure and help reverse undue pollution, contributing some $5 billion to a fund over the next decade. The law also sees to it that by 2032, plastic producers slash the amount of plastic packaging by 25 percent. This can be achieved through reduced packaging size, a swap-out in materials or designing for reusability. Everyday products from shampoo bottles to takeaway cups and bubble wrap are subject to the law.
The law does not, however, cover medical products and prescription drugs as specified in the Federal Food Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
“We welcome the new legislation that forces the industry to recycle all plastic packaging or make it compostable by 2032. Packaging is a major source of pollution in the beauty and cosmetics industry, and any step to reduce the waste and keep the plastic industry accountable is good. However, I am concerned that 10 years is too long — 2032 is a long time away,” Isabel Aagaard, cofounder of LastObject, told WWD. LastObject is a start-up that makes reusable versions of disposable namesakes (like the cotton swab and round). “The beauty and cosmetics industry, along with the plastic manufacturers that supply them, has had free rein to profit from unsustainable practices for too long. So while I am happy to see the new legislation — and that California yet again is taking a leading role in setting sustainable practices — I do feel the timeline is unambitious given the size of the environmental problems we are facing.”
Some products requiring tamper-evident packaging, or if subject to microbial contamination, may be omitted for now.
Repair, Everywhere: Repair services are gaining new — physical — ground.
Founded in Amsterdam in 2016, Makers Unite is one such fashion-favored company that bolsters creative talent with new opportunities under hands-on programs like its “Creative Lab” and its “United Repair Center.” The latter stokes upcycling and repair services for fashion brands with the goal to carry out 300,000 clothing repairs annually. Already, brands like Lush, Scotch & Soda, Tommy Hilfiger and Patagonia have teamed with Makers Unite for repair services and workshops.
On July 1, the United Repair Center (an effort championed by Patagonia’s EU team, Makers Unite and the Amsterdam Economic Board), officially opened its doors in the center of Amsterdam.
The space provides repair capabilities and capacity to brands, offers knowledge exchange under its regional repair academy and will open up recruiting for those with difficulty entering the job market.
“At Patagonia, repair has been an integral part of our business since Day One,” Willem Swager, director of finance and operations EMEA at Patagonia, wrote in a statement. “Everything we sell comes with an Ironclad Guarantee for life. We guarantee everything we make. We must all change our relationships with the gear we own, taking responsibility for what is already in our wardrobes, keeping our gear in play longer, repairing when needed, and passing along what we can’t use anymore. And we are inviting businesses and individuals to join us in this work. Together we can keep products out of the landfill and take action to lower our impact.”
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