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Paper Removed from SB-54

Extemded Producer Responsibility

Important news for Paper and Packaging companies – SB-54 EPR, the Extended Producer Responsibility Law, is a new law set to affect many manufacturers. VMA and our Lobbyist, RJ Cervantes of Fernandez Cervantes, worked closely with the Teamsters and excluded paper printers from the law, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

SB-54 Act & Who it Affects

The Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54), signed into law on June 30, 2022, will impose fees and regulations on manufacturers of single-use packaging or plastic single-use service ware. The law passed 67-2 in the assembly and 29-0 in the senate before Newsom signed it.

The law targets manufacturers and sellers of all goods sold in California and applies to the owner or licensee of the brand or trademark under which the covered product is sold or otherwise brought into California by distributors or retailers. This includes any company that makes any consumer or commercial goods with single-use packaging or food service ware sold in the state.

What are PROs and What Does it Mean for Business?

Under the law, producers of covered materials — defined as certain single-use packaging and plastic single-use food service ware — are required to join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) by January 1, 2024, or be prohibited from selling, offering for sale, importing, or distributing such covered materials in California.

PROs are required to establish and collect fees from member-producers as well as contribute $500 million per year to the California Plastic Pollution Mitigation Fund, contribute $500 million per year to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, and pay a “California circular economy administrative fee.

The law requires that producers ensure that all covered materials offered for sale, distributed, or imported in or into the state on or after January 1, 2032, are recyclable or compostable within the state. The law also mandates source reductions in covered raw materials.

Paper Businesses Exclusion

Today you get to see the true value of your VMA membership in action. Since paper was included in the original list of covered materials, our lobbyist RJ Cervantes sounded the alarm on June 15. By working with the AFPA and Lennie Kuhls in the Teamsters Union, we were able to remove paper before the final committee vote on June 28.

What This Means for Packaging Companies
  • Since the legislation is so new, the details of how many of our packaging companies that produce single-use paper and corrugated boxes with plastic laminate will comply are unclear at this time. In the event that a producer cannot remove the plastic lamination, they will likely need to meet all the new legal requirements. There is no need to panic; the law has an extended phase-in period: 30% of plastic packaging will need to be recyclable by 2028 and 65% by 2032. By 2032 the law required a 25% reduction in single-uses waste.
  • This means companies have time to work with their clients and look for alternative solutions such as paper or other material substitutes. We are not downplaying this significant news, but we want to point out that this can be an opportunity for our members to become expert resources for their clients, many of whom are brand owners that will need to re-engineer their packaging. Companies that rise to the challenge will most likely grow their business.
Stay Tuned for an Upcoming Webinar

VMA will continue supporting our members with this issue. We are working to create a statewide webinar with RJ Cervantes for later this fall for those affected by the new law.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Ian Flynn at ian@vma.bz.

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