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CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND RETAIL E-SSENTIALS

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USA: California bans marine degradable plastic claims

OCTOBER 2020 - ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS, HARDLINES, SOFTLINES, TOYS AND CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS

On 29 September 2020, the California passed a bill1 further restricts environmental marketing claims for plastic products. The Law expands restrictions on plastic degradability claims by eliminating the option of “marine degradable” claims, while it still permits compostability claims that comply with state requirements. 

“Plastic product” means a product whether is made of plastic alone or in combination with other material, including containers, bags, straws, lids, utensils, any consumer product and any kind of packaging.

Manufacturer or supplier must meet specific ASTM standards D6400 and D6868 before making a “compostable” or “home compostable” claim for plastic products, or if applicable, the plastic product has OK compost HOME certification. Otherwise, it is unlawful to sell a plastic product in this state that is labeled with the term “biodegradable,” “degradable,” or “decomposable,” or any form of those terms, or in any way imply that the plastic product will break down, fragment, biodegrade, or decompose in a landfill or other environment. Public can request manufacturer or supplier to provide information and documentation demonstrating compliance, this should take no longer than 90 days from the date of the request.

An exception is contained in the Law allowing agricultural mulch film for use in commercial farming applications to be labeled "soil biodegradable", but only if the Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling (the Commission) adopts EN 17033, or an equivalent or more stringent standard, and the commercial agricultural mulch film is certified to meet both that standard and the ASTM standards for compostability.

The Law also gives the Commission the authority to issue guidelines to determine whether a plastic product is not compliant with the applicable labeling requirements, and whether a plastic product is designed, pigmented, or advertised in a manner that is misleading to consumers. 

The Commission are required to issue preliminary recommendations to achieve market development and waste reduction goals by 1 January 2021, and to issue final policy recommendations and identify the products described above by 1 July 2021.

[1]  AB 2287

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