California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) recently released a preliminary report analyzing data related to the recyclability of certain materials in California. The report, issued in accordance with CalRecycle’s obligations under California Senate Bill 343 (SB 343), is intended to help the public determine whether businesses may legally claim their products and packaging are recyclable in California, including through the inclusion of the common “chasing arrows” symbol.
Enacted in 2021, SB 343 provides that products or packaging may not include messaging “indicating that the product or packaging is recyclable, or otherwise directing the consumer to recycle the product or packaging” unless it satisfies the statutory definition of “recyclable.” Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 42355.51(b)(1). To be considered recyclable, items must be collected by recycling programs that serve at least 60% of the state’s population and sorted by large volume transfer or processing facilities (LVTPs) that serve at least 60% of statewide recycling programs. Companies that make noncompliant recyclable claims may face liability under the state’s consumer protection statutes. It is also important to note that compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides may be insufficient to assure compliance with these new California requirements.
The preliminary report analyzes whether certain categories of materials—including subcategories of metal, plastic, fiber, and glass—are collected by local recycling programs and whether they are sorted by a sample of the state’s LVTPs. The report also estimates the percentages of the state’s population served by the analyzed programs and facilities. The results are broken down by type of material to aid the public in determining whether specific items may be advertised as “recyclable” in California. Covington’s more detailed analysis of the report’s findings and implications is available via email here.
CalRecycle will present its preliminary findings and solicit feedback on February 13, 2024 during a public workshop. The workshop is live in Sacramento and may also be attended via webcast. Additionally, interested parties may submit written comments until February 29, 2024. CalRecycle plans to finalize its findings within 60 days of the public workshop.