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Plastics Legislation: AB 793 - What's in the bill?

AB 793: Plastic Minimum Content Standards

On September 24, 2020, AB 793 was signed into law in California, establishing recycled content standards for plastic beverage containers. CalRecycle, the agency that oversees California’s waste management, recycling and waste reduction programs, is currently drafting regulations to enforce the standards set by AB 793.

So ahead of the coming regulations, we wanted to go over the details of the bill, what parties are effected, and what they can do to make sure they’re compliant with these new regulations. In this article we’ll be going over the language of the bill and its implications.


The Language in the Bill


Understanding the bill

What is PCR?

PCR stands for post-consumer recycled, which describes the material made from plastic that has been recycled by end-user consumers. According to the California Public Resources Code, ““consumer” means every person who, for his or her use or consumption, purchases a beverage in a beverage container from a dealer. “Consumer” includes, but is not limited to, a lodging, eating, or drinking establishment, and soft drink vending machines.” In the context of AB 793, which uses the term postconsumer, this refers to any beverage container that has been purchased and used by any of the above described consumers.


Rollout Schedule

As with most bills that introduce new regulations and standards, the requirements are not going to be set in place all at once. Instead, these regulations and requirements are going to be phased in over the course of the next 10 years with increasing PCR content requirements until 2030 when all plastic beverage producers will need to achieve 50% PCR content in their products.


To tier the rollout the schedule is as follows:


The Caveats

This bill provides a pathway for exceptions for manufacturers. Industry organizations can object if they feel there is insufficient supply of feedstock to support the required change. They may also object if the market rates for PCR increase too much.


TL;DR

In short: by 2030, 50% of the plastic in a bottle either made or filled in California must be made from PCR resin, increasing California’s overall waste plastic reuse and recycling efforts.