How will you be impacted by SB-343?

Tyler Matusevich

September 30, 2021

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California’s legislative session ended in mid-September with a slew of state recycling and organic stream bills being placed on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. While there is criticism on some of the bills from various plastic industry organizations, it is likely that these will become law.

For a highlighting article with the full list of bills and links to each, click here.

What is SB-343?

The bill mainly focused on our industry is SB-343 Environmental advertising: recycling symbol: recyclability: products and packaging. It prohibits the use of the “chasing arrows” commonly seen around the resin identification codes (RICs) on plastic packaging, unless approved by CalRecycle standards. The bill also requests CalRecycle to produce a list of commonly recycled items by January 1, 2024. The goal of the bill is to improve the quality of the recycling stream by properly informing the consumer – in other words, to ensure consumers aren’t misguided by deceptive recycling claims.

Regarding labels themselves, the most interesting piece included in the bill is that “plastic packaging is not considered recyclable unless it is designed to not include any components, inks, adhesives, or labels that prevent the recyclability of the packaging.” These components must be listed as preferred by The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) in its Design® Guide. The bill goes a step further to say even non-plastic products and packaging “must be designed to ensure recyclability” and must not include “any components, inks, adhesives, or labels that prevent the recyclability of the product or packaging.”

What does this mean for you?

SB-343 clearly states that any company selling or producing goods for the California market, that are packaged in rigid plastic bottles or containers, must use labels that meet APR’s Design® Guide. The good news? Brook + Whittle has been working with the APR for many years and have tested various printed labels to meet their guidance requirements. 

Looking for better recycling?

Learn more about our APR Recognized solutions for PET and HDPE packaging.

As for non-plastic packaging, we have been proactive in working with various industry groups and companies to understand how labels impact the recycling stream of the packages they’re attached to. Whether it’s paper, metal, glass, aluminum, or any other type of package, we are developing solutions that enable package recyclability.

Some of our labeling solutions are designed to go through the entire recycling stream with its package, while others may be removed in the recycling process. Although removed labels may end up in the landfill or utilized as waste-to-energy,  there is a growing capability to recycle this by product. Our ultimate goal is to make labels and packaging circular. We are successfully achieving this in PET bottles that use our GreenLabel™ Crystallizable Shrink solution, which allows the label to be recycled alongside the bottle. There are other examples as well and we will continue to develop recyclable, circular solutions.

Do you need shrink sleeves, pressure-sensitive or heat-transfer labels to meet the new California law? We’ll help you pick the solution that’s the best fit now while providing the tools, information, and partnership needed to advance your sustainability goals over time.

To get in touch with CalRecycle, please visit their website.

For further reading:
Recyclable per APR Definition
APR Design® Guide
101: What is recyclability?
SB-343 Environmental advertising: recycling symbol: recyclability: products and packaging
California lawmakers end session by passing slate of recycling, organics bills

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