A changed world: resin fees, bottle ticket endorsements

Here are two things you would never have seen a year ago in the plastics industry: a US senator tweeting about a tax on resins and a group of plastic bottle makers saying we need instructions for containers.

Still, the two were there this month.

There was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, DI, the author of a proposed 20 cent per pound tax on virgin resin in packaging, on social media discussing the recycling “fraud” and explaining why it “is pushing so hard for a pollution charge on single-use plastic that will make recycled plastic competitive and raise money for real recycling and cleaning.”

The American Chemical Council responded and pushed his own plan in Congress, including recycled content requirements and producer responsibility systems for companies to pay to help support recycling.

If you are following the debate, you have already heard the main points.

But what struck me was that it’s hard to imagine this exchange happening a year ago. A resin tax was not part of any serious debate in Washington

Now, pristine plastic charges are being thrown into executive circles on Capitol Hill as one of many ways to pay for the $ 3.5 trillion spending and Democrats’ tax cut plan, like Plastics news recently reported.

A year ago, idea like this would have been confined to European parliamentary debates, not conversations between senior members of the US Congress.

Today it is serious enough that 38 plastics industry CEOs sent a letter to House and Senate leaders on September 13 urging them to drop any idea of ​​including a resin tax in the Democratic plan. Build Back Better.

You might make a similar point about the September 13 pro-bottle invoice column from the National Association for PET Container Resources and the metal can and glass packaging industries.

NAPCOR and associations from the other two industries published their joint call for container depots in Real Clear Politics, claiming depots are the fastest way to increase recycling rates. The trio also wanted to present their take on how best to design a bottle billing system.

The policy around bottle bills is changing. All over the world they are growing, although not so much in the United States.

Advocates of the deposits say that since 2017, countries and regions with a population of 300 million people around the world have added them.

That’s not to say it’s an easy push in this country. The three groups, including the Can Manufacturers Institute and the Glass Packaging Institute, do not plan to jointly lobby around specific bottle invoice proposals, NAPCOR said.

And it’s hard to imagine the United States, with our decentralized state-by-state recycling policy, moving forward to pass a national bottle law. But then again, that kind of endorsement from industry groups wouldn’t have been so publicly on the table in the United States even a year ago.

We are at a unique time for waste and recycling policy in the United States, certainly in recent decades.

Public interest in this country is much higher than it has ever been before, whether due to concerns about climate change, images of turtles with plastic straws pulled out of their nostrils, or cities. complaining about footing the bill in weak recycling markets.

We’ve seen two states this year, Maine and Oregon, pass legislation for extended producer responsibility, which essentially requires companies that use packaging, like big brand owners and retailers, to pay fees for it. support the recycling of their products.

The resin tax, bottle invoice declaration, and EPR legislation mean there is a lot more of what I would call facing the financial reality surrounding these debates now.

On a related note, I attended an online conference earlier this month on how the investment community is asking more questions about financial risks for plastics companies and how to position themselves. capital flows for a more circular industry.

People are going into details – quickly – about how to pay for upgrades to waste collection and recycling systems and how to build systems that might be able to reduce low recycling rates in states. -United.

One wonders what that will look like in a year or two.

Steve Toloken is a Plastics news Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Toloken.

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