State legislative action includes removal of 2 bans: 1994

Legislative activity on the state level for environmental issues relating to flexible packaging continued to surface during 1995, however, no major legislation with a negative impact became law, according to the 1994 State Legislative Year in Review report issued by the Government Relations Department of the Flexible Packaging Association, Washington, DC.

Two key repeals of anti-packaging measures were signed into law during 1994. Maine repealed its ban on aseptic packaging, and Suffolk County, NY, repealed its outright ban on plastic bags.

Many of the failed legislative efforts of 1994 are expected to resurface during the 1995 state legislative sessions, according to the report. An overview of some of the bills considered by state legislatures in 1994 follows.

* California SB 1746, which would ban the use of the chasing arrows or any other symbol that implies recyclability on plastic products old after Jan. 1, 1996, was withdrawn by the author.

* California ACR 139 requests state agencies to act expeditiously to increase their purchase of biodegradable plastics to the maximum extent possible. The bill was signed into law by the governor. The bill also asks the California Integrated Waste Management Board to analyze the efficacy of biodegradable plastics, including an analysis of potential impacts from mixing biodegradable plastic resins with other plastic resins.

* Colorado SB 144, restrictive packaging legislation, was defeated. The proposed bill would mandate specified levels of post-consumer recycled-material content and labeling requirements for trash bags and rigid-plastic containers.

* Connecticut HB 5835, which was signed by the governor, requires the state to revise its procurement specifications for products and materials for which the US Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines for minimum recycled content. A rates-and-dates provision requiring 25% postconsumer recycled content on all packaging was removed prior to the bill's passage.

* Florida - Although more than 10 bills were introduced that would have amended the state's advance-disposal fee (ADF), none of them were heard in committee prior to the legislature's adjournment on April 15, 1994. The ADF is a 2-cent fee on all "individual, separate and sealed glass, plastic, plastic-coated paper, steel aluminum or other metal can, bottle, jar or beverage containers." FPA is working with the Florida Packaging Council, the body responsible for advising the legislature on the ADF, to include a source-reduction exemption in the ADF law.

* Illinois HB 2958, a packaging-reduction and recycling law, died during 1994. It would ban the use of packaging that isn't reduced, reusable, recycled or recyclable beginning July 1, 1996.

* Iowa SF 2205, which was signed by the governor, clarifies the state's ban on the intentional introduction of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium in packaging. It defines intentional introduction and incidental presence.

* Maine's ban on aseptic packaging was repealed with LD 256 and signed by the governor.

* Massachusetts was active in the packaging-restriction area. Although four bills died during 1994, they would have far-reaching effects. These bills were:

* SB 1015, which died, would mandate that plastic garbage bags with a capacity of at least 5 gal. be transparent and completely degradable by microorganisms.

* HB 785 sought to ban the use of packaging that isn't reduced, reusable recycled or recyclable by July 1, 1996.

* HB 1715 would have required all retail packaging sold in the state to display a consumer-information label stating the total percentage of recycled content and postconsumer recycled content in the packaging.

* HB 4498 would have required that beginning July 1, 1996, all packaging sold in the state be reduced, be recycled, contain recycled materials, be made of effectively recycled materials or be effectively recycled.

* Michigan SB 187 requires claims of recycled content, recyclability and degradability to adhere to the Federal Trade Commission's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.

* Minnesota considered three bills regarding packaging in 1993, including:

* SF 1788, signed by the governor, establishes a voluntary packaging hierarchy; softens the state's 1991 ban on intentional introduction of toxics into packaging and requires a study on the intentional introduction of mercury into products.

* SF 1859, which was defeated, sought tn require manufacturers to reduce their use of packaging by 30% and mandates all discarded stretch-wrap packaging be used or recycled after June 30, 1998.

* HF 1682, which died during the session, sought to require that public entities only dispense milk through bulk dispensers or refillable or reusable containers. Other provisions could have mandated: recycled content in packaging, a ban on transport packaging, including shrink wrap, from disposal in landfills and incinerators, and the restriction of discardable packaging.

* New Jersey A 563, carry-over legislation for 1995, seeks to require that all packaging be environmentally acceptable, which is defined as reusable, recycled or recyclable. A 1092, another carry-over bill for 1995, seeks to require plastic bagging to contain specified amounts of postconsumer-waste material. It would also require that aseptic packaging be recyclable.

* New York had numerous packaging related bills under consideration in 1994, and all died in the 1995 session. SB 7760 sought to establish a task force to study waste reduction and establish voluntary agreements with industry to meet rates and dates for recycled content. AB 9994, companion legislation, also died in the Assembly. AB 2573(B) sought to require that all packaging sold in the state be reduced, recycled, recyclable or reusable by Jan. 1, 1996.

AB 5758(A) sought to mandate that packaging must contain the product-to-package ratio on the label. AB 9965 would have required the label on packaging to state the percentage of postconsumer-recycled content in the packaging. SB 7809, identical legislation, died in the Senate.

* Suffolk County, NY, repealed its outright ban on plastic bags. Retail establishments must institute a take-back program or offer customers a choice between paper and plastic bags. A small-business exemption exists for businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees.

* Vermont H 738, which died, sought to ban packaging that doesn't meet required recycled-content standards.

For more information on any of these bills, contact the FPAs Government Relations Department at 202/842-3880.

* Green Honor - Citing the contributions of a recycled bleached board from Westvaco Corp., New York, NY, McDonald's Corp. and the Perseco Co. have honored the firm with a 1994 Earth Effort Packaging Award.

Perseco is a buying arm of McDonald's. The two firms initiated the award program in 1993 to honor suppliers who take a leadership role or exert special efforts to minimize the environmental impact of McDonald's packaging.

Printkote Eagle bleached board is made with 30% postconsumer-recycled fiber. According to Westvaco, it's the only bleached board made with postconsumer fiber that meets all US Food and Drug Administration requirements for direct food-contact packaging, including moist and oily foods. It's said to print and convert as well as the company's virgin bleached board, allowing customers to select the recycled option without sacrificing performance.

During a recent award ceremony, McDonald's and Perseco pointed to their mutual desire to incorporate recycled fiber into their packaging and maintain strict standards for cleanliness.

"Because of Eagle's cleanliness and the safeguards Westvaco built in the production process, Perseco was able to qualify this grade for use in packaging in less than three months," according to the ceremony program. "This rapid qualification allowed Perseco to achieve one of it s primary objectives without devoting extensive resources to a long testing process."

Printkote Eagle bleached board is converted into clamshell packaging for some of McDonald's specialty food items. The product was created in response "to customers who didn't want to sacrifice anything in order to have consumer and food packaging made with postconsumer fiber, according to Harry K. Williams, Westvaco vice president and folding carton div. manager. "We've learned through our close association with McDonald's and Perseco that they're very serious about managing packaging from cradle to grave."

* Meets Order - The recycled-content envelope papers produced by Boise Cascade, Portland, OR, meet the stricter guidelines as set forth by the Presidential Executive Order.

The Presidential Executive Order establishes new guidelines for government purchases of recycled-content materials and is intended to serve as a model for private and pubic institutions. It was effective on Dec. 31, 1994.

A Boise Cascade spokesperson said because of the firm's years of recycling efforts, the company fulfilled the 20% postconsumer-waste requirement ahead of the government's time line. As of August 1994, Boise Cascade mills in International Falls, MN, Rumford, ME, and Vancouver, WA, were making envelope papers in accordance with the order.

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