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New Jersey Bill Would Restrict ‘Recyclable’ Claims; Require Solid Triangle for RIC

Interior photo of New Jersey State House

A recently introduced bill in New Jersey (Bill S2145/A1554) would prohibit the sale, distribution, and import of certain products and packaging marked as recyclable, unless the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determines that the products are widely recycled. The bill specifies that the use of a chasing arrows symbol surrounding a resin identification code (RIC) would be considered an indication that the product or package is recyclable, while a RIC in a solid equilateral triangle would not indicate recyclability.  

The legislation also directs N.J. DEP to conduct a materials characterization study by January 1, 2024, to identify the products and forms of packaging that are deemed to be recyclable in the State and thus permitted to display the chasing arrows symbol. Packaging may not be considered recyclable if it includes any components, inks, adhesives, or labels that prevent the recyclability of the packaging according to the APR Design Guide published by the Association of Plastic Recyclers, or if it contains intentionally added hazardous chemicals or PFAS. Products manufactured up to 18 months after DEP carries out or updates the materials characterization study are exempted.

Importantly, the bill would amend existing law to make the current provision, which now requires use of the chasing arrows symbol as part of a RIC on certain plastic bottles and containers sold in the State, consistent with S2145.

RICs were originally developed by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) (formerly the Society of the Plastics Industry) in 1988 to identify the plastic resin used in manufactured articles. The codes originally consisted of a number inside a triangle formed by chasing arrows. The numbers signified the type of plastic used in the product. PLASTICS began to work with ASTM International in 2008, and in 2010, ASTM D7611/D7611M - 18, “Standard Practice for Coding Plastic Manufactured Articles for Resin Identification,” was issued. The “chasing arrows” symbol was changed to a solid equilateral triangle around the numbers when Standard D7611 was revised in 2013 to eliminate any confusion between the resin codes and the universal recycling symbol of chasing arrows. There are no U.S. federal laws governing the use of RICs; however, at least 36 states have enacted legislation on the use of these codes and many of these laws were enacted prior to the adoption of the revised ASTM standard.

S2145 was introduced in the state Senate on March 7, 2022, and referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.