The well-known symbol of the three arrows does not necessarily meanthat a product is truly recyclable. A new bill would limit the products allowed to carry the mark.
Triangular recycling "arrow hunting" symbol is everywhere: on disposable cups. On the shower curtains. On children's toys.
What many buyers might not know is that any product can display the sign, even if it is not recyclable. This is a lie, critics say, and as a result, countless tons of non-recyclable garbage is thrown into the recycling bin every year, choking the recycling system.
Late Wednesday, California took steps to become the first state to change this. A majority of the members of the state assembly voted to ban entoccasions to use the arrows symbol, unless they can prove that the material is in fact recycled in most California communities and used to make new products.
" This is a basic concept of truth in, "said California State Senator Ben Allen, Democrat and main sponsor of the bill. "We have a lot of people dutifully putting materials into recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking they 're going to be recycled, but in reality they are heading straight for the landfill " he said. -he declares.
The measure, which received enou gh votes to pass assembly on Wednesday night, is expected to clear the State Senate later this week and be promulgated by Governor Gavin Newsom, is part of an emerging effort across the country to fix a long-standing recycling system.e broken.
Although materials like paper and ls are widely recycled, less than 10% of the plastic consumed in the United States is recycled, according to the most recent estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, most plastics are incinerated or dumped in landfills, with the exception of some types of resins, like those used for bottled water or soda.
For years the United States also ships much of its plastic waste overseas , choking local rivers and streams. A global convention now prohibits most trade inplastic waste, although US waste exports haven't completely ceased .
This summer, Maine and Oregon have adopted laws overhauling their states' recycling systems by forcing companies to pay the cost of recycling their packaging. In Oregon, the law called for a task force to assess "misleading or lending claims. confusion "related to recycling. The legislation is pending in New York which would prohibit, among other things, products from displaying misleading claims.
Over the past year, a number of environmental organizations have filed lawsuits aimed at tackling misleading claims of recyclability by large companies. Environmental groups have also criticized the industry's plans oil and gas company to expand its production of petrochemicals, which are the main building blocks of plastic, as the process is highly polluting and creates new demand for fossil fuels.
The recycling symbol is" subconsciously telling people who buy things, 'You are eco-friendly, "said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council, which recommends businesses to do more. responsibility to recycle their products.
"No one should be able to lie to the public," she said.
In California, the bill has won support from a coalition of environmental groups, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers. Recycling companies say the move will help them reduce non-recyclable waste thrown into recycling bins which must be transported, sorted and sent to landfill.
Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the nation's largest waste and recycling companies, said in an interview that more than a fifth of the materials their company processes nationwide are non-waste This means that even at its best, Republic is only running at 80% efficiency, dealing with materials it shouldn't be dealing with, he said.
Some of the most common forms of clearing operationsRadiation of non-recyclable waste at Republic 's 70 facilities in the United States, which processes six million tonnes of curbside collection per year: snack bags, plastic films, grocery bags and packaging materials. Plastic bags, in particular, cannot be recycled in most curbside recycling programs and recycling machines are known to clog.
" There are many products on the market. today who have hunting arrows that shouldn't, "said Mr. Keller. “There aren't really any real end markets, or any real way to recover and recycle these materials through collection programs.
The plastics and packaging industry opposed the bill, saying it would create more confusion for consumers, not less . An industry memo circulated among lawmakersCalifornians urges them to oppose the bill unless it is amended, arguing that it "would create a new definition of recyclability with unworkable criteria for complex products and end-use packaging. unique ".
The letter was signed by industry heavyweights like American Chemistry Council, the Plastics Industry Association and Ameripen, a group of the packaging industry. California should wait until Washington comes up with nationwide labeling standards, the groups said.
During discussions on the draft Law, opposition industry groups have also said that if a product is deemed non-recyclable, companies will not invest in technology to recycle it. Supporters of the bill say the opposite would be true: stricter rules would encouragemanufacturers to make their products truly recyclable by investing in new packaging, for example.
Dan Felton, executive director of Ameripen, expressed concern by the fact that the bill would actually reduce recycling rates. The bill "could have the unintended consequence of sending more packaging materials to landfills just as California needs to boost recycling," he wrote in an email.
The American Chemical Council referred questions to Ameripen. The Plastics Industry Association, which represents plastics manufacturers, warned that the bill would determine that a large number of products would not be recyclable and would therefore be landfilled. (Supporters of the bill point out that these products are landfilled anyway, despite the display of the recycling symbol.)
Environmental groups have said stronger government oversight is essential." This is the Wild West of sheriffless product claims and labeling in town, "Jan Dell, engineer and founder de The Last Beach Cleanup , an environmental organization, wrote in an email.
The invoice would constitute a crime for companies to use the recycling symbol chasing arrows on any product or packaging that has not met the recycling criteria of the The products would be considered recyclable if CalRecycle, the state recycling service, determines that its have a viable end market and meet certain design criteria, including not using toxic chemicals.
In Besides plastics, the bill covers all consumer goods and packaging sold in the state, excluding certain products already covered by existing recycling laws, such as beverage containers and certain types of batteries. Thanks to its environmental laws, California already has prohibits companies f rom using words like "recyclable" or "biodegradable" without supporting evidence .