The New Jersey Chapters of the Surfrider Foundation pushed for the passage of NJ Bills A4676 and S2515, which will establish minimum postconsumer recycled content levels for the manufacture of particular products, including glass bottles, paper carryout bags, and plastic containers, bottles, and bags.
Starting January 2024, these items would need to be made with between 15%-35% recycled postconsumer materials, depending on the item. Those percentages will increase over time. The bills also ban EPS foam loose fill packaging, also known as “packing peanuts”.
Beyond reducing the manufacture of virgin plastics, these bills will help bolster the recycling industry in New Jersey, creating new markets and value for postconsumer plastics that would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfills. When materials have no value, they also end up frequently as litter, which we have seen with the deluge of plastic pollution in New Jersey.
The Chapter used social media to get their members to phone elected officials about this bill.
Ultimately this bill had seven different committee hearings and multiple revisions. The NJ Governor signed this bill on January 18, 2022. The final percentages for recycled content ended up being 10% and 15% for rigid plastics and plastic bottles respectively by 2024. This increases to 50% post-consumer recycled content by 2050 and 2045 respectively. There is a similar schedule for glass bottles, newspaper, paper and plastic bags and plastic trash bags.