The state of California potentially is embarking on a mandatory comprehensive program to address packaging waste. This is in line with what some other national, regional and local governments are considering for their respective jurisdictions. The European Union, many Canadian provinces, China, India and the state of Connecticut—to name just a few—have adopted regulatory programs to manage and reduce packaging waste.
Retailers and manufacturers are also playing an important role by seeking to replace excessive packaging with more lightweight, less expensive and reusable packaging designs. Many manufacturers and retailers are working cooperatively—and voluntarily—with government and other stakeholders to minimize the impacts of packaging waste.
To build on voluntary industry efforts, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) launched a “Manufacturers Challenge” in 2015. CalRecycle challenged product manufacturers and brand owners—on a collective basis, not on an individual company level—to voluntarily achieve a 50% reduction in packaging disposed in landfills in California by 2020. In CalRecycle’s view, the packaging industry failed to organize and respond sufficiently to this challenge. CalRecycle currently views the voluntary efforts of the packaging industry as insufficient to reduce landfill disposal of packaging waste and to achieve California’s stated recycling goals.
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