CalChamber Cites Key Policy Elements for Recycling in a Circular Economy

Working to find a comprehensive solution to recycling and packaging concerns is a goal shared by the California Chamber of Commerce and its members.

That was the message conveyed this week by CalChamber Senior Policy Advocate Adam Regele in testimony to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

Regele made his comments at the April 26 committee hearing on SB 54 (Allen; D-Santa Monica), explaining the CalChamber’s oppose unless amended position.

Shared Goals

The CalChamber agrees with Senator Ben Allen that it is the responsibility of the Legislature to address deficiencies in the state’s management and recycling of packaging materials through a comprehensive solution, Regele said.

Regele noted that the CalChamber also agrees with the Senator on the necessary components for achieving his vision: source reducing materials where feasible, designing for recyclability, attracting new investments and providing a pathway for enhancing California’s recycling and composting infrastructure, and creating end markets in order to realize a working circular economy.

Impact on Multiple Sectors

Disagreement has arisen, however, on the mechanics, feasibility and implementation of prior versions of the bill, Regele pointed out.

Disputed provisions would have substantial impacts on the state’s food and agriculture sectors, retailers and nearly every sector selling goods to consumers or other businesses.

Over the last two years, Regele commented, discussions have illuminated unintended consequences and regrettable substitutions, plus infrastructure needs and significant costs associated with creating a circular economy, highlighting both the scale of the challenges and the need for further refining the policies.

Deficiences to Fix

Regele expressed hope that stakeholders on all sides can overcome deficiencies in bill language noted over the last few years, such as:

• Providing in statute critical definitions necessary to send market signals and guide companies as they design for recyclability;

• Creating a pathway to bring and expand California’s recycling and composting infrastructure in the time frame contemplated by the bill’s mandates;

• Standardizing the requirements across all jurisdictions to educate companies and consumers with consistent recycling rules;

• Ensuring the California Legislature retains authority on the subject and avoids delegating much of its authority to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle);

• Maintaining due process by striking the emergency rulemaking authority provided to CalRecycle to develop major regulations, as a five-day notice and comment period is wholly inadequate;

• Applying eco-modulated fees where appropriate to account for externality costs rather than banning products under condition of sale language; and

• Including funding mechanisms to ensure the scope of the program can be realized without major disruptions to supply chains or increased costs to consumers.

Work in Progress

The CalChamber and its member companies remain at the table and will continue to provide solutions toward advancing the vision of a circular economy that reduces waste, increases real recycling, and prevents pollution so that a better system of managing material emerges, allowing economies and environments to thrive.

Background Briefing

A CalChamber briefing earlier this year featured presentations by practitioners in food packaging and recycling, advanced recycling methods and waste management.

To watch the video, visit the CalChamber advocacy website and go to “Policy Briefings” under the Policy / Issues menu dropdown.

Staff Contact: Adam Regele

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Adam Regele was named vice president of advocacy and strategic partnerships in March 2023. He joined the CalChamber in April 2018 as a policy advocate specializing in environmental policy, housing and land use, and product regulation issues. He was named a senior policy advocate in April 2021 in recognition of his efforts on behalf of members. Regele came to CalChamber after practicing law at Oakland-based Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, PLC, where he advised private and public clients on complex projects involving land use and environmental laws and regulations at the local, state and federal levels. Before entering private practice, Regele served as a federal judicial law clerk to the Honorable Edward J. Davila of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. Regele earned a B.S. in environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of Law, where he was symposium editor and research and development editor for the Hastings West-Northwest Journal. See full bio