Bill S2515, signed into law last month, establishes recycled content requirements starting in 2024 for certain plastic, glass and paper packaging and bans polystyrene packing peanuts.

Starting in 2024, rigid plastic containers will be required to contain at least 10% postconsumer recycled content, while plastic beverage containers will need to contain at least 15%.  But that’s just the beginning.  Thereafter, the rates of postconsumer recycled content will incrementally increase, until a cap of 50% is reached by 2036 and 2045, respectively.  The new law also establishes:

  • a 35% standard for recycled content in glass bottles;
  • a 20% standard for plastic carryout bags;
  • a standard of between 20% and 40% for paper carryout bags, depending on size; and,
  • a range of standards for plastic trash bags based on thickness.
  • Polystyrene packing peanuts will also be banned in 2024

Proponents of the new law hope that it will serve as a model for more states to follow.  However, industry advocates and manufacturers are concerned that the new law is overly burdensome and sets goals that are unrealistically high when compared to market supply.  In an effort to try and address those concerns, the new law directs the NJDEP to establish incentives for manufacturers, recyclers, and retailers to collect and reuse polyethylene film.  In addition, the NJDEP must work with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers and the Clean Communities Program, a statewide litter abatement program, to develop and implement a statewide education program meant to encourage recycling.