California proposing comprehensive legislation focused on eliminating single-use plastics
Plastic continues to be the focus of current legislation in California. As a leading manufacturer of protective packaging, including plastic and paper packaging solutions for the ecommerce marketplace, our Pregis experts are staying abreast of the legislation and its potential impact.
While many states are considering – and have passed – bills to ban, control, or put a fee on various forms of plastics, such as single-use bags and food service containers, California leads the way in proposing comprehensive legislation focused on eliminating single-use plastics. Among current legislation, there are two bills that specifically impact plastic packaging for brands, retailers, and ecommerce businesses using plastic packaging for the shipment and transit of products in and into the state of California.
Here's a look at the bills, specifically the items relevant to the packaging of consumer goods for ecommerce shipment:
California Bill AB 2026
An assembly bill calling for significant reduction in single-use plastic packaging used in the ecommerce marketplace. Among many specifics, the intent of this bill is to prohibit a manufacturer, retailer, producer, or other distributor that sells or offers for sale and ships purchased products in or into the state from using expanded or extruded polystyrene to package or transport the products after Jan. 1, 2024. A recent amendment to the bill calls for ecommerce shippers to “reduce from its 2022 calendar year levels the total weight and number of units of single-use plastic shipping envelopes, cushioning, and void fill it uses to ship or transport products, by no less than an unspecified percentage on or before January 1, 2030.” Under the revised language, the baseline measurement of plastic packaging would be established this year with the reduction goal implemented by 2030 for large ecommerce sellers (>$15MM in sales) and 2035 for all others.
California Bill SB 54
A senate bill that proposes a tax – an EPR (extended producer responsibility) – on plastic packaging for companies using plastic packaging to ship or transport products in and into California. The original bill intent is to enact the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act and would impose a tax on producers, retailers, and wholesalers of single-use packaging products made partially or entirely of plastic. This bill could be on the ballot for voting in November 2022.
For years, legislation around plastics has been focused on banning or putting a fee on single-use plastic items. The long-term solution lies in moving towards a circular economy and building an infrastructure to recapture and reprocess materials for extended life of the material
Plastic is versatile and a part of our everyday lives in our highly consumable society. As a protective packaging company that manufactures both plastic- and paper-based materials, Pregis stays abreast of legislation that could have an impact on our products and our customers’ businesses, and we remain aligned with like-minded organizations to drive solutions that will protect and preserve our environment for future generations.
Our team of sustainability and design experts are highly involved in discussions around legislation impacting plastic packaging. In May, Clint Smith, our Senior Director of Global Sustainability, and Jonathan Quinn, Director of Market Development and Sustainable Flexible Packaging, joined representatives from the American Chemistry Council, Flexible Packaging Association, Ameripen, and Sealed Air to make a presentation to California legislators. Citing data and real-world packaging examples, the presentation helped raise awareness around the impact of damaged shipments on the environment and the critical role of packaging science and material options in protecting the environment.
A reduction in packaging is not always the best solution to reduce pollution
At Pregis, a core focus is to protect – not just products, but also people and the planet. We believe packaging materials should perform its function by providing optimal protection in the most efficient and effective way that will have the least impact on the environment while delivering a positive customer experience. We work with our customers to find the right solution for each application and recommend the proper amount of packaging needed to perform – no more, no less.
Proper packaging can actually reduce environmental impact, whether it’s paper or plastic material used in the packaging. The right packaging eliminates unintended consequences, such as reshipment due to goods damaged during transit or oversized packages contributing to excessive materials and inefficient shipping logistics. The environmental impact of damaged products is significant. Starting with the right packaging decisions is good for the environment to reduce landfill waste and conserve resources. Pregis uses a propriety tool, EcoGague, to quantify the impact of damage on the environment. In most cases, the data are eye-opening. It generates offers a comprehensive look at environmental impacts, including the usage of trees, gasoline, electricity and natural gas. It also measures carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions, habitat loss, solid waste destined for landfills and the impact on water quality.
The right material and design solution for each packaging application can contribute significantly to a reduction in waste through optimal protection performance that eliminates damage, waste, and reships. As a material neutral company, we consult with our customers to recommend the best packaging product, whether it’s paper, plastic, surface protection, mailer, or poly bag.
It starts with a focus on a sustainable circular economy
A significant move to reducing plastic waste is to increase the circularity of all packaging. At Pregis, we are continuously developing new package designs that are recyclable or reusable and researching innovative materials that deliver the same protective performance as current solutions with less environmental impact. Working internally and with other organizations, we’re dedicated to innovation in product and packaging design, from material selection and use of recycled and bio-based materials in new packaging to improved recyclability and waste reduction.
With package design and testing laboratories in the U.S. and Europe (Pregis IQ facilities), our packaging engineers constantly design and test materials – including a range of poly and paper – with the goal of delivering goods undamaged in the most sustainable and efficient manner. One of the single most important things we can do as a protective packaging manufacturer is to help companies deliver packages one time. Creating one-time shipments reduces cost for consumers, reduces customer frustration from receiving damaged shipments, and reduces unnecessary environmental impact from broken goods – this includes the broken items that become waste as well as the packaging required for returns and reshipments.
Developing package designs that are recyclable or reusable is part of the solution to eliminate unnecessary waste while also delivering packaging that protects products. At Pregis, our package design initiative falls under sustainability because we understand the importance of packaging to help reduce environmental impact. It’s a complex combination of modifying package design to increase recyclability
Staying focused on the Pregis Purpose to Protect, Preserve, Inspyre
As stewards of our environment, we are committed to our purpose to Protect, Preserve, and Inspyre, and this purpose remains the focus of every product we design, manufacture, and deliver. We believe all packaging products, regardless of material or design, should protect as it is intentionally designed while eliminating waste. To preserve our environment, our products are manufactured in the most efficient way to reduce waste and raw material consumption, and we continuously strive to improve our processes and products to contribute to a circular economy. And we maintain a strong commitment to education – of our employees, customers, and consumers – to be better stewards for the community and the environment by changing behaviors to benefit our planet for future generations.
As a key player in the plastic packaging industry, Pregis will continue to work with organizations and government officials to develop solutions for a future free of waste and abundant in recycled, reusable, and environmentally-friendly packaging solutions. We will continue to operate in the most sustainable manner and work towards our 2K30 goals.
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