One of Many Recommendations on State’s Recycling System

Did you know the recycling system in California was broken? If not broken, at least some in Sacramento consider it in need of an overhaul or update. While no legislation has been passed regarding recycling protocols in the state, a California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets & Curbside Recycling was formed and recently issued its findings. These include a list of suggestions aimed at legislators for improving California recycling efforts.

One of those was the labeling of certain materials as recyclable in the state. The proposed effect of this would be that consumers would be informed (though packaging, etc.) about which items they purchase are recyclable and which are not. The Commission hopes that such labeling would push consumers to choose (or prefer) products which have been labeled as such and on an official California state recycling list.

Los Angeles California recycling center bins
Los Angeles California recycling center bins

In addition to reducing contamination in the solid waste system, this proposal allows consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on the recyclability of the items they purchase,” the report states. “The proposal will also send a signal upstream to manufacturers to choose recyclable packaging choices and to support California’s recycling markets by purchasing recycled material at sustainable prices.
Recycling in California

Dovetailing with our earlier post on municipal solid waste reduction efforts, the Commission came into being in 2019 as a result of the California Recycling Market Development Act. As we reported on 35% of municipal solid waste is recycled currently. In 2020 the state hit the 37% mark, far short of its lofty 75% recycling or composting goal.

Recommendations on California Policies

The Commisions’ report which is a lengthy document made several suggestions that they say should be followed in order to reach MSW reduction goals in the state. One more of the 30 recommendations is that the state require that all fiber-based personal care products have 90% post-consumer content that has been recycled. While this may promote California’s production of recycled fiber it remains to be seen, if implemented through legislation, what effect this would have on industries that produce these products. Will the reduction in MSW be adequate to offset increased production costs or retooling that manufacturers may need to do? And, it’s widely agreed on that increased manufacturing costs usually get passed on to the consumer. In effect, waste reduction may end up costing Californians more in a state that is already beset by exorbitant gas, personal income and sales taxes.