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PLASTICS' government affairs team
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PLASTICS members, welcome to the first edition of our new Advocacy newsletter! This is part of an effort to bring you the latest information on the scope of work PLASTICS is engaged in on your behalf, and to highlight activity in the federal, state and regulatory areas. This newsletter is intended to provide quick reviews and highlights that are shareable and includes links and contacts for follow-up. Please share it with others in your company. 

 

  • Advocacy Edition 1.1 July 18, 2018
    Additional List of Chinese Products Proposed for Tariffs

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced July 10 a third list of proposed tariffs on Chinese imports under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Among the products proposed for 10-percent import tariffs are certain plastics machinery, materials and products. The announcement of the public comment period, which runs through August, and list of product subheadings from Chapters 39 and 84 can be found on the tariffs page of the PLASTICS website. PLASTICS will be submitting comments. PLASTICS President and CEO Bill Carteaux’s statement concerning the latest tariffs can be found here.

    Senate Sends the President a Message on Tariffs

    The Senate approved on July 11 a nonbinding motion requiring that Congress must approve any presidential proposal to raise tariffs in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The 88-11 bipartisan vote was part of a motion to instruct House and Senate negotiators on an unrelated appropriations bill. The effort was led by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) in response to the President’s imposition of an additional 25 percent on imported steel and aluminum after a Section 232 investigation. A stand-alone bill on which the motion was based, S. 3013, has been unable to clear procedural hurdles for a full Senate vote. Bipartisan companion legislation, H.R. 6337, has been introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).

    Congressional Leadership Showing Frustrations with Chinese Tariffs   

    Both Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have stated publicly their frustrations with President Trump’s increasing imposition of tariffs on Chinese products and are considering moving legislation to limit the president’s powers to enact tariffs unilaterally. Brady stated that the Ways and Means Committee is looking at options for legislation and that he wants to see three things from the Trump Administration before Congress acts: 1) a timetable for trade talks with China; 2) reforms to the tariff exclusion process; and 3) an exemption process from tariffs for trading partners.   

    Even Congress getting in on the Straw Ban Bandwagon

    Instead of dealing with critical trade or infrastructure matters, Congress is having to deal with straw bans. The latest language in next year’s Legislative Branch spending bill added an amendment from the House, then also similar language in the Senate, that would prohibit the purchasing of plastic drinking straws by Congressional food service vendors for Capitol complex cafeterias.  PLASTICS is fighting these efforts and working with ACC to reach out to the Conference committee to eliminate the language.

    Below are the conferees to reach out to:

    Senate
    House

    Shelby; Alexander; Boozman; Daines; Lankford; Leahy; Feinstein; Schatz; Murphy

    Frelinghuysen; Simpson; Carter; Calvert; Fortenberry; Fleischmann; Herra Beutler; Taylor; Lowey; Kaptur; Visclosky; Ryan; Wasserman Schultz


     

     

     

     

     
     
    Product Bans – Coming to a Town Near You

    Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Washington DC – big cities that are known for taking progressive actions. Most recently that has included banning convenient foodservice items like cups, take-out containers and straws. Just last week, in the nation’s capital, for instance, legislation was introduced that would only allow compostable straws even though a law is already on the books requiring foodservice items be compostable or recyclable.

    These policies are spreading, to upwards of 200 municipalities by some counts, and are likely to continue to spread across the country and have even reached higher levels of government. In a New York state bill, plastic straws would only be available upon request. This type of legislation continues to be introduced even while business and restaurant groups are making their own independent decisions on what products they would like to offer. Much of the motivation to introduce this type of legislation is driven by daily media reports of plastic pollution – even if that material isn’t strictly plastic foodservice items or generated in this country.

    PLASTICS has and will continue to advocate for policies that protect plastic products due to their environmental, consumer and social benefits, while advocating for consumer education to keep them from becoming litter. A ban on these products exhibits a lack of understanding of the benefits of this material. PLASTICS is also encouraging its member companies to be aware of these issues that may be occurring in their own backyards, and participate in the policy making process with a unified voice.

    EPA Seeks Comment on Problem Formulations Released for TSCA Risk Evaluations

    Announced on June 1 and published June 11, EPA has made available the problem formulations for the first ten risk evaluations to be conducted under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): asbestos; 1-bromopropane; 1,4-dioxane; carbon tetrachloride; cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD); methylene chloride; n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP); Pigment Violet 29; tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene) and trichloroethylene (TCE).  As some of these may still be used in the plastics industry, PLASTICS wants to hear from members to help educate the EPA and inform comments, which are due on July 26.  Comments are also being accepted on EPA’s “General Guiding Principles to Apply Systematic Review in TSCA Risk Evaluations”.  For more information, please contact Marie Gargas.

    Consistency, Transparency, Costs and Benefits in EPA Rulemakings

    Open for comment are a proposed rule on Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, to address rulemaking “consistency, reliability, and transparency” in the implementation of various statutes (due August 16), and an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process (due August 13).  If you have comments to share, especially any information on your company’s costs to implement or otherwise comply with various EPA regulations, PLASTICS would like to hear from you.  Please contact Marie Gargas.

    PLASTICS Seeks Member Experiences with Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)

    With OSHA recognizing that modern equipment design has brought increased use of computer-based controls of hazardous energy – and conflict with their standard for the control of hazardous energy (LOTO; at 29 CFR 1910.147) – the Agency intends to issue a request for information (RFI) on new technology, standards, and related potential hazards to workers.  This Lock-Out/Tag-Out Update was most recently listed in the Spring 2018 Unified Agenda.  Please watch for a survey that will help us gather initial information on current LOTO experiences in the plastics industry, particularly with mold changes, to help inform this effort and related regulatory advocacy.  For more information, please contact Marie Gargas.

    Is Your Company Engaged in the EHS+ Committee?

    The EHS+ Committee is a forum for all PLASTICS members to share experiences, gain more knowledge, and advance regulatory advocacy on environmental, worker health and safety, and product regulatory matters.  Are you or others from your company participating?  Meetings are held three times a year and monthly calls are held for its Environmental Issues, Worker Health and Safety, and Product Regulatory Task Groups.  For more information, please contact Marie Gargas.

    For more information on products bans, where they are taking place and how to get involved, contact GOV@plasticsindustry.org

  • Advocacy Edition 1.0 June 29, 2018

    PLASTICS members, welcome to the first edition of our new Advocacy newsletter!

    Please let us know if there are others that want to subscribe by sending an email to gov@plasticsindustry.org.

    On to the news…
    Tariff issues multiply…

    Section 301 Proposed Tariffs on Chinese Imports of Plastics Materials and Products: the comment period is open on the United States government’s proposal of an additional 25-percent tariff on certain imports of Chinese plastics materials and products. The Trump Administration announced its intention to impose tariffs on Chinese imports after the Section 301 investigation of Chinese practices and policies on intellectual property, technology theft and technology transfer. Proposed tariffs on plastics machinery was announced April 6. The final determination on the list of those tariffs (Annex B) was announced June 15 and will go into effect on July 6. Also, on June 15, the list of proposed tariffs on plastics materials and products was announced.

    PLASTICS will be submitting comments, and we welcome your input. Member companies are encouraged to submit comments by July 23. Please follow the instructions under Paragraph F of the attached document. [The Federal Register Notice outlines the public comment process as well as lists the products (Annex C) for which the tariffs are proposed. The plastics products begin on page 47 at HTSUS Subheading 3916.10.00 and continue to 3921.90.50.]

    PLASTICS signed onto a letter to Congress in support of Congressional Approval of Presidential Tariffs. S. 3013, introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) requires the approval of Congress for any presidential proposal to raise tariffs in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Tariffs of an additional 25 percent on imported steel and aluminum were imposed by President Trump in March after a Section 232 investigation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has signaled that he will take up legislation in his committee to limit the president’s ability to impose tariffs unilaterally under Section 232.

    Exclusion Process for Machinery Tariffs to be Announced… the Office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) will soon announce the process by which U.S. stakeholders can request exclusions from the additional 25-percent tariffs imposed on certain imported Chinese plastics machinery. PLASTICS will share that information when it is made public.

    PLASTICS Introduces Tariffs Page to Assist Members… Visit here for information about tariffs and trade and to request assistance in complying with the new import tariffs.  For questions on tariffs , please contact Suzanne Morgan, smorgan@plasticsindustry.org

    Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill…

    As members of the Rail Customer Coalition, this week PLASTICS signed onto a letter urging President Trump to nominate Chicago area attorney Martin Oberman to fill the final seat on the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The letter also thanked the President for his previous nominations of Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Shultz, both of whom were recently approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Presently, the board only has two of the five available seats filled. This severely limits the actions the STB can take to address problems that arise, including the recent disruptions in service caused by the changes implemented by CSX. Having the third nomination in place will help to move all three to the full Senate for confirmation.

    The Rail Customer Coalition represents a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural and energy industries. The more than 70 RCC members are major transportation stakeholders and account for more than half of the total volume of cargo shipped by rail.  For more information contact John Grant at jgrant@plasticsindustry.org

    Effort to advance recycling infrastructure continues… Earlier in the Spring, PLASTICS led the creation of a coalition to promote government investment in waste management, and to encourage policymakers to think of recycling and recycled materials within the infrastructure investment policy debate. See our original letter here.  We continue to advance this effort, grow our coalition and seek opportunities to draw attention to the issue. Last week, we met with Rep. John Shimkus, Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, and Co-Chair of the House Recycling Caucus to discuss the need for more plastics recycling investment in the United States. For more information on recycling infrastructure and marine debris issues, email Scott DeFife, sdefife@plasticsindustry.org

    As California goes…

    On June 4, PLASTICS State Government Affairs attended a CalRecycle workshop entitled “Recycling Globally: California’s Role in Adapting to a New Market Climate”. The workshop allowed stakeholders from throughout California to share information on the impacts they have seen and to discuss potential solutions and strategies. The workshop was a great opportunity to gain additional insight into the thinking of the municipal recyclers in California.  Significant emphasis was placed on reducing contamination in the recycling stream with better public education. The majority of 3–7 plastics in California were previously exported, but Asian markets for them are shrinking. Several local recycling agencies in attendance indicated their programs were accepting only PET and HDPE, which continue to have healthy markets. Without the development of local markets more local agencies may refuse to accept 3–7 plastics.

    Several active pieces of legislation were referenced during the workshop. PLASTICS has commented on the following:

    As New York goes...

    PLASTICS Opposes NYC Council Straw Ban... The New York City Council is considering legislation to ban plastics straws and stirrers. On June 21, the NYC Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing heard “Int. 0936-2018 - Prohibiting single-use plastic beverage straws and beverage stirrers.” This legislation would prohibit “food service establishments from offering single-use beverage straws or stirrers made of plastic or any other non-biodegradable material to consumers, except for those that require one due to a disability or medical condition.” The legislation creates new, vague definitions for “disability” and “medical condition” which are different from Section 8-102 of the New York City Administrative Code. The legislation is not clear on how the food service establishment would determine who is eligible to receive a straw.

    The Committee report acknowledged the difficulties with alternative materials: “While alternatives to plastic straws do exist, their cost, durability and manufacturing process does render them a more expensive product than disposable plastic straws.” Additionally, there is no alternative to large plastic straws used to consume bubble tea. The committee believes these concerns are addressed by implementing a one-year phase-in period.

    Despite these concerns, the testimony at the hearing was overwhelmingly supportive of the measure. PLASTICS submitted testimony opposing this measure, however it is likely to pass the Council. PLASTICS will continue to monitor this legislation and keep members apprised of its movement.
     

    For more information please contact Shannon Crawford, Director, State Government Affairs at scrawford@plasticsindustry.org.

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