Beverage Container Mandate Fails to Move

A proposal to require tethered caps for single-use plastic beverage containers failed to move out of the Assembly before this week’s January 31 deadline to pass the house in which it was introduced.

AB 319 (M. Stone; D-Scotts Valley) was opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of business groups.

The bill was a burdensome mandate on beverage containers. It would have driven up the cost of beverages and imposed impractical technology requirements by mandating that the cap of a single-use plastic beverage container be tethered or affixed to the container.

In opposing AB 319, the coalition pointed out that the technology to design and utilize tethered caps for certain beverage products has not been developed for market.

As no prototype is available for carbonated or hot filled drinks, it is impossible to determine when such a tethered cap could be in production. AB 319 would not only have significant impact on production and possibly jobs in the state, but also would affect thousands of companies around the globe that manufacture and distribute beverage products in California.

A tethered cap also creates challenges for California’s recycle goals and efforts, the coalition letter explained. Current single-use bottles are 100% recyclable and move easily through the recycle chain. A tethered top would require small recyclers to make changes to their equipment at a significant expense.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has recently updated its guidelines to explicitly state “when recycling, we suggest you empty your bottles and put the caps back on the bottles.” Current CalRecycle data indicates that 87% of plastic beverage containers are returned with caps on.

The coalition pointed out that tethered lids still can be unscrewed from the bottle, and often are sealed with a removable plastic closure. A more effective approach, the coalition stated, would be to educate consumers about recycling the lids with the bottles.