SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 906, bringing resolution to a problem hampering the efficacy of California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. The measure, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), implements a scientifically-based definition of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, for plastic containers and packaging.
“AB 906 will help reduce contamination in the recycling stream and improve the efficacy of the recycling program,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Every year, billions of plastic bottles are recycled in California, some of which are mislabeled and, as a result, contaminate the recycling streams they enter. AB 906 will ensure that plastic bottles are appropriately labeled according to their chemical composition.”
Plastic beverage containers are labeled with a code reflecting the type of resin used to produce the container. These codes streamline the recycling process, as each type of resin is sorted and then processed differently. Currently, two polymers, PET and PETG, both fall under Resin Code 1.
PET and PETG, though classified together, react very differently to the industry-standard conditions for processing PET, in part due to PET’s much higher processing temperature. When the two materials are recycled together, PETG melts, sticking to PET chips and forming large lumps that ensnare and slow the recycling process. AB 906 will define PET based on its chemical composition and melting point, ensuring that PET and PETG are labeled with different codes and are no longer recycled together.
“AB 906 provides some relief to the recyclers in California, who have grappled with a labeling system that does not accurately reflect the chemical make-up or the processing conditions of the products they receive,” said Assembymember Bloom. “This seemingly minor change made to bottles before they even enter the recycling stream will have a positive impact at every step of the recycling process, ensuring that bottles are appropriately labeled by manufacturers, sorted by consumers and receiving facilities, and processed by recycling processors.”
Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.