Subscribe

For more information, contact:

PLASTICS' government affairs team
gov@plasticsindustry.org

PLASTICS members, welcome to the 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. 

 

  • Regrind Edition 1.7 October 11, 2018
    Explorers Edition

    While many parts of the country celebrated Columbus Day, and increasing numbers of cities honored Indigenous Peoples Week this week, your PLASTICS team was out exploring advocacy related developments across the country.

    PLASTICS made an expedition to the Municipal Waste Management Association conference in Houston, Texas this week to forge new relationships with city sustainability and solid waste management professionals across the country.   Scott DeFife attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ MWMA meeting to discuss efforts by the Plastics industry to increase recovery of plastics in recycling, find opportunities for partnerships with city leaders who want to work to expand plastics recycling, and to discuss support for the industry led effort on Domestic Recycling Infrastructure legislation at the federal level.   This conference was well attended and a great opportunity to network with folks on the ground in the local waste management business.  Topics included source reduction, foodservice packaging innovation, rebuilding markets in the wake of China’s National Sword, and fighting contamination.  Allied organizations such as the Foodservice Packaging Institute and Recycling Partnership were in attendance as well. 

    Investigating the New NAFTA – the USMCA Largely Follows Plastics Industry Guidance

    While we continue to review the voluminous text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the good news is that the broad strokes of the deal map fairly closely to the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) previously outlined priorities.

    When the Trump Administration first announced that it would be renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), PLASTICS and its counterpart organizations in Mexico and Canada worked in concert to provide a list of suggested policy changes and priorities. These were based on both the collaborative work of PLASTICS, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and the Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico A.C. (ANIPAC) and the results of member surveys conducted by exclusively by PLASTICS.

    We delivered the resulting list of guidelines and priorities to the Administration in July 2017 and the renegotiation ultimately concluded recently, with the unveiling of the USMCA. If the text of the agreement is any indication, the plastics industry’s priorities were very much on the minds of negotiators as they forged this new trade deal.

    For instance:

    • Continued support of the growth and development of the North American plastics industry.
      • Although the plastics industry is not mentioned specifically, provisions in the USMCA have been strengthened from the original NAFTA text to ensure market access and the balanced and reciprocal trade between the three countries. Rules of origin (ROO) have been better defined and strengthened so that products manufactured and traded within the countries are produced with a majority of North American content. The agreement also modernizes several aspects of the previous agreement, with new chapters added for digital trade and intellectual property. A new chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) allows for raising the de minimis rule for taxes levied by each country on cross-border shipments. There are also no restrictions on remanufacturing, which had been a concern of the PLASTICS Equipment Council.
    • Harmonization of regulations of all types as they affect the industry.
      • A chapter entitled Good Regulatory Practices has been added to the USMCA signifying that regulatory cooperation between the countries is a priority. The agreement calls on the governments to promote, review and coordinate good regulatory practices and to develop improvements among the regulatory bodies of each country. Each nation is urged to use quality information and to maintain transparency in the planning, development, writing, review and publication of regulations. 
    • A review of the Rules of Origin (ROO).
      • The ROO were reviewed, and the updates are among the most significant changes in the USMCA. ROO determine whether a product originates in a North American country, defined in the agreement as an “originating good,” to be eligible for duty-free treatment. The USMCA streamlines the certification and verification procedures for ROO including no prescribed format for certificates of origin to be provided by the exporter. The Rules of Origin chapter also increases the de minimis amount to 10 percent from 7 percent for non-originating materials (from outside North America) used in production.
    • A simplification and modernization of trade and customs documentation.
      • The USMCA includes provisions allowing for the use of digital technology and procedures to enhance the facilitation of trade across the borders and to decrease costs to trading partners and to the governments. Among the provisions are sections granting access to all necessary information online; the ability to submit documentation online prior to arrival; the ability of customs agents to review and process necessary documentation and data prior to arrival; the use of a single-window system allowing for electronic submission through a single-entry point; the ability to correct errors that could potentially stall shipments or result in heightened fees and fines; and access to datasets and manifests that can be used across the continent for cooperation and uniformity across all borders.
    • Ease of employee access throughout the continent.
      • In Chapter 16 of the USMCA, Temporary Entry for Business Persons, “sales” and “sales services” are defined as “business persons” in this chapter and are therefore granted temporary entry by providing certain documentation. Another chapter, Cross-Border Trade in Services (Chapter 15), in broad terms, updates NAFTA and adds additional text to provide that each country shall treat services or service suppliers of another country no less favorably than that it treats its own services and service suppliers “in like circumstances.” The updating of the chapters on market access and customs should also help to ease this problem. If there continue to be instances after the agreement goes into force, companies can seek recourse in the provisions of other chapters such as Chapter 11, Technical Barriers of Trade.
    • No new tariffs.
      • The agreement maintains duty-free treatment for “originating goods.” Some PLASTICS members had concerns in the survey results about currency fluctuations. A new chapter has been added to address unfair currency practices by adding transparency and requiring commitments from devaluation and targeting exchange rates. There were also no changes in duty drawback in the agreement from NAFTA text.
    • Continued labor cost flexibility between the three nations.
      • Again, provisions that ensure equitable market access apply as much to potential sales as they do to ensuring flexibility between the three nations when it comes to labor costs. There are details specific to certain industries—for example, the only industry identified for set labor costs in all three countries is automotive with the $16 per hour wage requirement for those workers producing 40 percent of the content—but the spirit of the agreement overall suggests continued labor cost flexibility throughout the continent.

    No agreement is perfect, of course. A significant negative for the industry is that the Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum imposed on Canada and Mexico by the U.S. remain, at this point. These tariffs might be replaced by quotas while Mexico and Canada continue to negotiate with the U.S. for their removal. Another negative is the mandated 16-year termination clause of the USMCA without all three countries agreeing to continue. There is a provision for a review beginning in the sixth year and each year after that. Although the 16-year life of the agreement is much better than the U.S.-supported five-year sunset clause, the defined termination of the agreement could create uncertainty and limit market access.  

    The agreement is currently in a 60-day review period by Congress while undergoing legal scrubbing by inter-agency attorneys and 105 days for the generation of an economic impact study by the International Trade Commission. There has not been much reaction by Congress on the USMCA as the House is in recess until November 13, and the Senate has been focused on other matters before leaving for recess later this month. The next target date for the agreement is November 30 when the leaders of the three nations are to officially sign the agreement; after that, the legislative bodies of the three governments must also give their approval. A final vote in Congress in 2018 or in 2019 might depend upon the outcome of the midterm election and which party will be in the majority in January. Regardless, when passed, the agreement will go into effect on the first day of the third month after all three countries have ratified the agreement. United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers last month that he expects the agreement to go into force in February or March 2019.

    Searching through Regulatory Developments

    Proposed revisions to industrial process refrigeration requirements are open for comment…

    EPA is seeking comments on a proposed rule to revisit requirements applicable to equipment containing substitute refrigerants for those that contain an ozone-depleting substance (ODS).  Affected entities include owners and operators of refrigeration equipment used in the manufacture of chemicals, machinery, and plastics.  Section 608(c) of the Clean Air Act prohibits any person from knowingly venting, releasing, or disposing of ODS refrigerants and their substitutes “in the course of maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance or industrial process refrigeration”.  

    Provisions of a November 2016 rule extended requirements to substitute refrigerants that previously applied only to ODS-containing refrigerants.  EPA’s proposal follows changes to previous legal interpretation and would, in short: revise appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions, revise the list of required practices for refrigerant releases to be considered de minimis, and extend the January 1, 2019 compliance deadline for when appliances that contain only substitute refrigerants subject to the “venting prohibition” must comply with the maintenance and leak repair provisions.  Comments are also being accepted on whether the previous extension of subpart F requirements to substitute refrigerants “should be rescinded in full”.  

    Comments are due November 15.  For more information or to provide input, please contact Marie Gargas.

    EPA finalizes fees, releases working approach to “pre-prioritization” and SEEKS input on Work Plan chemicals under TSCA…

    On September 27, EPA released a pre-publication copy of its final rule on “Fees for the Administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)”.  Fees primarily apply to manufacturers of chemical substances, and in limited circumstances to processors.  This is the last of the framework rules to be finalized under the amended TSCA.  On September 28, EPA released “A Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization”, including near-term and longer-term strategies; comments will be accepted through November 15.  EPA has also opened public dockets to collect information about chemicals remaining on its 2014 Update to the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments.  Please contact Marie Gargas for more information, or hear directly from EPA leadership at the joint meeting of PLASTICS’ EHS+ Committee and FPA’s EHS Committee on October 16-17.  If you can’t join us in Washington, DC, you can still register to participate by phone and web meeting.

    State and Local Action On the Horizon on both Coasts

    Is New Jersey the East Coast California?

    New Jersey is moving forward with a sweeping ban on plastic bags, expanded polystyrene foam, plastic straws, and will tax paper bags in S2776. As has been said in New Jersey Senate hearings and by Governor Murphy, the state is attempting to outperform California in terms of legislation targeting plastics. In this case, the state is attempting to ban the oft-targeted plastics products all at once, ignoring the economic, social and environmental benefits these products offer when they’re handled properly. This bill follows an attempt by the state legislature to apply a 5 cent fee on all bags that was vetoed by the governor because it was “incomplete and insufficient.” S2776 has passed its first committee and will head to the Budget and Appropriations Committee where hopefully the economic toll that this bill would have on customers and retailers will ring loud and true. PLASTICS is rallying its membership in the state to continue to make noise about the impacts of this bill.

    Nantucket – Small but Aggressive

    The breezy, summertime retreat of Nantucket is building on its own aggressive history of banning plastics on the island.  On October 10, a Special Town Meeting was convened to review a new bylaw entitled “The Regulation of Sale, Distribution and Use of Certain Single Use Plastics.” The Findings section of the bylaw pulls together a large amount of misinformation which misrepresent the impact of single-use plastics to bolster an argument for the new provision to long-held regulations of plastics on the island:

    “It shall be unlawful to sell, distribute or otherwise use the following single-use plastic products in the Town and County of Nantucket on or after June 1, 2019: Straws and drink stirrers; six-pack can and bottle flexible yokes; nip bottles; containers used in the sale of or distribution of food; drinking cups and lids; plates and eating utensils; drinking water in single-serve polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers; all non-recyclable #3 through #7 plastic products.”

    These items had been exempted in 2016 action on plastics.  The bylaw is strict by not even allowing the use of such products as PET water bottles. The first offense is a warning followed by a $100 fine and $200-per-day fine for each subsequent offense. Those who are not permanent residents of the island may be in for a shock when they vacation in Nantucket next summer.

    Los Angeles moves on from Straws to Utensils

    In August LA City Councilman Bob Blumenfield introduced a motion requesting the city consider adopting a Plastic Utensils-On-Request ordinance. No doubt fueled by the state “straws upon request” bill, the motion instructed the LA Bureau of Sanitation to conduct a feasibility study on the implementation of requiring restaurants, and other food service providers, to withhold plastic utensils unless a customer requests them. The 60 day time period for the study is now up, so PLASTICS expects movement on this ordinance in the coming weeks.

    Plant TOUR

    Thank you to Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) for her recent visit to Thermal Care in Niles, Illinois. While on the visit, Congresswoman Schakowsky heard first-hand the issues facing the plastics manufacturig. Representatives from Thermal Care met with the Congresswoman’s office when they participated in the 2018 Plastics Industry Fly-In in September. Schakowsky’s tour was a direct result of their meeting in Washington DC.

    Thermal Care manufactures cooling equipment for plastics manufacturing. Rep. Schakowsky is serving her 10th term in Congress and serves on the House Energy and Commerce committee as well as the Budget Committee.

    Thank you to Thermal Care for participating in the Fly-In and for opening their doors to the Congresswoman.

     

  • Regrind Edition 1.6 September 27th 2018
    Autumnal Equinox Edition

    Welcome to the 7th edition of Advocacy RegrindIn Regrind, we bring you some of the latest positive developments that your PLASTICS government affairs team is working on and alert you to opportunities for regulatory comments and other calls to action. Click the READ MORE links on any given subject to learn more about that topic from previous issues of Regrind.

    The regrind team is busy gathering up some policy nuggets for you as Fall begins and we prepare to harvest our Advocacy bounty.  This is the time where the work of the Spring and Summer pays off and we start to see some results.  The feedback on the meetings that many of our members had during the Fall Board meeting and fly-in will pay long-term dividends in terms of building positive relationships with policymakers in Washington.

    Save the Date for the SPRING 2019 Fly-in on March 27, 2019

    One of the issues that industry representatives discussed with lawmakers during the Fly-in was marine debris and the need for enhanced recycling infrastructure to properly dispose and process plastic material from the waste stream.  The seeds of thought we planted are starting to germinate as the Save Our Seas Act S. 3508 moves through the Senate.  The Save Our Seas Act has been considered in the House and Senate each a couple of times during this Congress, each time being amended to enhance the Act and the opportunity to make greater impact on the marine debris problem.  This week, the Senate heard our arguments on the international trade impacts of recent decisions by China and other Southeast Asian nations to close down imports of plastic materials for recycling and added the ability of the U.S. Trade Representative to weigh in on international marine debris deliberations.   Some studies have found that importers in these countries may have been subverting rules and not being transparent about the materials imported, leading to additional waste entering the environment once it was deemed to not be of high enough quality. The core of the Act reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program and supports funding for research and development of bio-based plastics and other environmentally feasible improvements to materials that reduce municipal solid waste.  PLASTICS supports the passage of the Save Our Seas Act, and hopes for the House of Representatives to act quickly on S.3508, and send it to the President for enactment.  The bill and the problem of marine debris and trade was also the subject of a hearing in the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday, drawing more attention to the issue, and increasing the dialogue on the need for more recycling infrastructure.

    Could This be the Week for an Updated NAFTA? Will It be “USM” or “USMC”?

    Unhappy with negotiations on an updated NAFTA and Canada’s negotiating style, President Trump said Wednesday that he rejected a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations General Assembly this week. The U.S. and Mexico have already struck a deal (“USM”) while U.S. officials have continued to hold discussions with Canadian negotiators to bring them into the agreement. On Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer indicated that negotiations are still far apart and that “Canada is not making concessions in areas where we think are essential.” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said that “small things are holding up a big deal’ and that a vote on the agreement will be held in Congress after the mid-term elections. This week is critical to the negotiations for the U.S. under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) granted to the President by Congress. President Trump is prepared to move ahead with the bilateral USM agreement with Mexico if there is no agreement with Canada. Office of the USTR is expected to publish the text of USM on the its website on September 28. Under TPA, text must be made public 60 days before the deal is to be signed by the leaders of the three countries. Mexico wants to adhere to the U.S. timeline so that outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto can sign the agreement on November 30 before the December 1 inauguration of his successor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO. If the November 30 date passes without signatures, then the agreement could be reopened for new negotiations with AMLO and his government.

    Exclusion Process Not Expected for Third List of Chinese Tariffs; Trade War Continues

    When the Trump Administration announced on September 17 the final List 3 of imported Chinese products subjected to additional tariffs that went into effect on September 24, 2018, there was no mention of an exclusion process similar to the exclusion processes in place for List 1 and List 2. There has been speculation that the lack of an exclusion process on List 3 is so that the Trump Administration can maximize leverage over China and keep the list open for future additions. Initially, the additional tariff rate for the Chinese products is 10 percent and will increase to a 25-percent rate on January 1, 2019. China’s Ministry of Finance issued a statement announcing an additional $60 billion in tariffs on certain U.S. imports also beginning on September 24. In a return volley, President Trump issued a statement that the U.S. would immediately add tariffs on another $267 billion of Chinese imports if there is retaliation. China has also called off more trade talks with the U.S. scheduled to begin this week in Washington citing that it would not negotiate “with a gun to its head” while sanctions are in effect and so many of its products are being subjected to U.S. tariffs. Talks are not expected to begin again until after the November mid-term elections.

    USTR Announces Exclusion Process for Second List of Chinese Tariffs

    On September 18, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published the procedures to consider requests for exclusions from the second list of tariffs on certain imported products from China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The tariffs were imposed beginning on August 23. See the attached list for the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. (HTSUS) subheadings beginning with 39 for plastics materials and products and 84 for machinery. USTR encourages electronic submissions made through http://www.regulation.gov under docket number USTR-2018-0032 that will be made available to the public. Exclusions must be submitted by December 18, 2018, and any exclusions granted will have the effective date of August 23, 2018.

    Requests for exclusions must include the following information:

    • Identification of the physical characteristics (e.g., dimensions, material composition, or other characteristics) of a particular product;
    • The 10-digit subheading of the HTSUS applicable to the product;
    • Requesters also may submit information on the ability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to administer the exclusion;
    • The annual quantity and value of the product that the requester purchased in each of the last three years or an estimate if the information is not available;
    • The percentage of the requester’s total gross sales in 2017 that sales of the Chinese-origin product accounted for.

    The requests should also address the following:

    • Whether the product, or a comparable product, may be available from sources in the U.S. or in third countries;
    • Whether severe economic harm would be caused by the additional duties on the product to the requester or other U.S. interests;
    • Whether the particular product is strategically important tor related to “Made in China 2025” or other Chinese industrial programs.

    Updated KORUS Agreement Signed with South Korea

    President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed the updated South Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement at the United Nation General Assembly on September 24. KORUS went into effect in 2012, and the amended agreement will take effect on January 1, 2019. Congress will have a 60-day consultation period. Among the updates in the agreement as listed in the USTR fact sheet are Korea’s customs practices and policies particularly on verification procedures on the origin of exports.

    State Team Prepares to Hit the Road for Recycling

    The conversations about recycling have been recycled – over and over again this year  -- in state capitals across the country. For this reason and for many more, PLASTICS is gathering likeminded associations to have legislation introduced and passed that will deliver important funding to states’ recycling infrastructure and programs. PLASTICS has been involved in significant stakeholder meetings over the past few months that have culminated in some promising language we hope to introduce soon. We previewed this initiative at the 2018 Fall Board Meeting which garnered some auspicious feedback from PLASTICS members and Congressional offices.  For more information on the recycling infrastructure legislation contact Shannon Crawford

    To that end, the State Government Affairs Team will hit the road this October for a series of industry meetings to garner more support for this legislation. We’ll be speaking at the Conference of Mayors Municipal Waste Management Association’s summit, attending recycling-specific conferences, and meeting with regional recycling interest groups. An important check point will be America Recycles Day on November 15.

    We welcome any input or ideas that PLASTICS members may have on how to boost their state’s recycling infrastructure, and ask everyone to stay tuned for a formal introduction on this much-needed recycling infrastructure legislation.

    More on the Industry Efforts related to building a stronger recycling infrastructure can be found here: http://www.plasticsindustry.org/infrastructure

    As the days grow shorter…EHS+ Committee to shed light on product regulatory issues

    As previously announced via email, PLASTICS' EHS+ Committee and the Flexible Packaging Association's (FPA's) Environmental, Health & Safety Committee are gathering for a joint meeting in Washington, DC on October 16-17.  If you haven’t participated in an EHS+ Committee meeting in the past or in a while, now is a great time to join or rejoin. Registration is open, and all members are equally welcome to participate in person or by phone/web meeting. 

    Want to know what’s going on with management of new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), two years after it was amended?  And how we can provide EPA with the best available information on the use of chemical substances in the plastics industry?  Recently confirmed guest speakers from EPA include: Jeff Morris, Director, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxic Substances; Doug Parsons, Communications Director, Chemical Control Division, and Joel Wolf, Chief, Existing Chemicals Branch.

    Global chemicals management (including the EU’s REACH) and the status of polymers will be addressed by Dr. Herbert Estreicher, Keller and Heckman LLP.

    Agency speakers on environmental issues include David Harlow, Senior Counsel, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation on New Source Review clarifications and reforms.

    On the worker health and safety front, contemporary issues and safety considerations will be addressed by Manesh Rath, Keller and Heckman LLP.  Discussion will continue on the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout; LOTO), industry standards and more, in preparation for OSHA’s anticipated request for information on a potential update of its standard.

    Beyond regulatory issues and compliance, participants will continue discussions on leading indicators of safety, key performance or behavior indices, advancing pollution prevention strategies, and steps in striving for zero net waste.

    Please contact Marie Gargas for the latest agenda or more information.

  • Regrind Edition 1.5 September 13th, 2018
    A special PLASTICS Fly-in Fall Board Meeting Edition of the Regrind

    PLASTICS Takes Washington by Storm!  First and most importantly, the Regrind team wants to extend our thoughts for all those preparing for Florence to hit the east coast.   Please be safe and be well. 

    For those that made it to the Fly-in and Fall meeting, you helped make it a record-breaking meeting.  We blew past prior attendance marks and breezed through more Capitol Hill meetings than any previous (our recent recorded history) of our trips to Capitol Hill.  With dozens of first-time attendess! Well done!

    Discussions included NAFTA progress, tariffs, recycling infrastructure, marine debris, workforce technical training and recruitments needs, open competition, OSHA lockout-tagout and more.

    If you could not make it to this fly-in, don’t despair, we will be back in the Spring 2019 in Late March-early April.  Details announced soon on the PLASTICS webpage.

    While we meet in Washington, the Advocacy work continues…

    MTB Passes Congress and Awaits President’s Signature

    The Senate-amended version of H.R. 4318, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 or MTB, passed the House by a voice vote on September 4 and was sent to President Trump for his signature. For more information, see an earlier article from the August 2 edition of the Advocacy Regrind.

    (read more) … Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Passes Senate. By a voice vote on July 26, the Senate passed an amended version of H.R. 4318, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 or MTB, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX).

    Brady Introduces Tax Reform 2.0

    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced a package of three bills that will constitute a second tax-cut package known as “Tax Reform 2.0.” The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Trump in December 2017. The three bills represent the three “buckets” of reform previous announced in a listening session framework by Brady on July 24:

    • Protecting the Middle-Class and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018, H.R. 6760, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL). The legislation extends tax cuts not made permanent in the 2017 act.
    • The Family Savings Act of 2018, H.R. 6757, sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA). This legislation enhances retirement savings.
    • The American Innovation Act of 2018, H.R. 6756, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL). The legislation relates to entrepreneurship.

    All three pieces of legislation are scheduled to be considered by the Ways and Means Committee today, September 13.

    Straws Survive the Leg Branch Appropriations Process -- Efforts by PLASTICS and our partners have been successful in preventing an outright ban on plastic straws within the Capitol building here in DC. Language had been considered within the Legislative Branch appropriations measure that would have prevented the plastic straw from being distributed by vendors on the grounds. However, compromise language that will receive a final vote in both chambers soon requires vendors to look at alternatives to reduce or eliminate plastic waste. To accomplish this, the vendors are to explore the use of biodegradable items as well as increasing recycling and composting opportunities. PLASTICS staff will continue to keep you updated on this issue.

    Fair Winds from the West?

    State Government Affairs Director, Shannon Crawford made one final trip to California before the legislature adjourned for the year on Friday, August 31. In the final days of the session there were significant developments with two key bills: SB 168 - mandated PCR (post-consumer resin) and SB 1335 - sustainable packaging.

    • SB 168 (Wieckowski) - Required a beverage container that is a PET plastic container to be constructed with a minimum percentage of 20% postconsumer recycled plastic.

    SB 168 ultimately failed. There was some consideration of this measure as a way to increase use of post-consumer recycled material.  California has other rules in place that must be reconciled, and the bill required each unit or bottle to have 20% PCR content.  PLASTICS anticipates the mandated PCR conversation will continue to work with our coalition partners throughout the fall as industry seeks to develop a workable compromise in advance of next year’s legislative session.

    • SB 1335 (Allen) - Requires the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to establish a list of approved types of food service packaging.

    As originally introduced, SB 1335, would have required “that the type of disposable food service packaging is recovered for recycling or composting at a rate of 75% or more” or be made with an “approved” material. PLASTICS opposed the bill for arbitrarily determining a list of “acceptable” materials despite additional materials also being recyclable. In the final weeks of the legislative session, coalition partners were able to work directly with the Sponsor’s staff to offer amendments making the bill material neutral. SB 1335 was amended significantly enough that PLASTICS was able to offer our support of the legislation. SB 1335 ultimately passed both chambers as amended and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

  • Regrind Edition 1.4 August 30th, 2018
    End of Summer and Back to School edition of Regrind.

    Welcome to the 1.4 edition of the Regrind. Celebrating the end of summer with a Back to school edition of Regrind!

    Geography Lessons – Where is Canada?

    U.S. and Mexico Reach Trade Deal as President Scraps “NAFTA”

    On August 27, President Trump announced that he will end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in favor of the new USMTA (US-Mexico Trade Agreement). After weeks of talks in Washington, negotiators from the U.S. and Mexico have reached a bilateral trade deal in principle to update and replace NAFTA. Little is known now with no text released, and only fact sheets have been made public, which can be viewed below:

    Canadian negotiators were excluded from the table during the bilateral discussions; however, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has traveled to Washington to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer with the possibility of joining the deal by the end of the week. One of the most contentious issues—rules of origin for automobiles—was resolved by increasing the current 62.5 percent North American auto content to 75 percent auto content from the U.S. and Mexico. In addition, 40 to 45 percent of the auto content must be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour. Instead of a five-year sunset clause demanded by the U.S. during the trilateral NAFTA negotiations, reports are that the bilateral agreement includes a 16-year term with reviews every six years to identify and possibly fix problems or the agreement could end after ten more years. Ambassador Lighthizer has said that the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Mexico have not been lifted in this agreement. Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had indicated that he wanted a deal before his inaugural on December 1 and encouraged current President Enrique Pena-Nieto to speed up the negotiations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waited until the U.S. and Mexico came to an agreement but vowed that he will not sign any deal unless it is good for Canada. Ambassador Lighthizer announced that the President will notify Congress on Friday, August 30, of an agreement, whether it be bilateral or trilateral, starting the 90-day clock under Trade Promotion Authority for congressional review and a vote to approve or disapprove the agreement. With the clock starting Friday, the first day the agreement could be signed is November 30, which is within the timeframe of the Mexican government. If actions slip to later dates, the agreement could be bound over to the new Congress in January and possibly a new majority in one or both houses. PLASTICS will continue to monitor and report on the negotiation and actions.    

    One Last Road trip before School Starts – Congress will return to Washington next week after Labor Day, and the PLASTICS Government Affairs team was busy with one last road trip before the House and Senate start classes again visiting North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin.. (read more)

    Amcor Hosts U.S. Rep. George Holding at North Carolina Facility

    Rep. George Holding (R-NC), a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, visited Amcor in Youngsville, North Carolina, on August 16. The tour, facilitated by PLASTICS, featured an overview of the company, its operations and a close-up view of the manufacturing processes on the shop floor. Amcor was Rep. Holding’s first visit to a plastics manufacturing facility. He appreciated learning about the sustainability and recycling initiatives for Amcor and for the entire plastics industry. The Amcor plant happens to be the largest employer in Youngsville, a town north of Raleigh.       

    Representative John Katko (R-NY-24) along with Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R-130) recently toured Berry Global’s Macedon, New York facility. Representative Katko was first elected to Congress in 2014 and serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Assemblyman Oaks has served his district since 1992 and sits on the Ways and Means Committee. The Macedon facility manufactures blown film primarily for the food services industry. While visiting, Representative Katko and Assemblyman Oaks saw first hand the manufacturing process in one of Berry Global’s largest facilities. Discussion with plant leadership included a history of the site as well as workforce development issues and what the state and Congress can do to help improve some of those shortcomings.

    Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI-7) along with State Representative Rob Swearingen (R-34) and Mayor Chris Frederickson recently visited the Printpack’s Rhinelander, Wisconsin facility.  The facility is one of Printpack’s newest having opened in this location in 2014. This facility prints food packaging film primarily for the confectioner side of the industry including many widely recognized brands. This was the first visit to the site by Congressman Duffy and Mayor Frederickson though State Representative Swearingen has been to the location before. Discussions prior to the tour of the facility included trade and workforce development. On the floor the guest saw first hand the high quality work and state of the art processes the employees of the facility accomplish on a daily basis.

    Congressman Duffy was first elected in 2010 and serves on the House Financial Services Committee.  Representative Swearingen was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2012 and serves on the Tourism, Small Business Development, Environment and Forestry Committees and the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions. Mayor Frederickson is serving in his first term as Mayor of Rhinelander.   

    Photo: From Left, Swearingen, Plant Manager Pat Marquart, Duffy, Frederikson

    Science Class … wear your goggles as PLASTICS weighs in on EPAs Risk Management Program

    In the latest wave of opportunity to weigh in on the subject, PLASTICS submitted comments on August 23 in response to EPA’s proposal to reconsider and generally revoke most of a set of amendments, finalized in January 2017, to the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations under section 112(r)(7) of the Clean Air Act.  PLASTICS outlined its support for revoking a number of the measures, consistent with comments filed when they were originally proposed, and voiced objections on new proposals viewed as impractical, unnecessarily burdensome or otherwise inappropriate.  It was noted that certain requirements, penalties, and EPA authorities in place prior to the amendments would remain in place regardless. 

    PLASTICS also reiterated strong support of efforts to promote and enhance the safe management of chemicals, including: encouraging facilities to conduct formal investigations beyond what is required by regulation; encouraging EPA to support and allocate resources towards targeted joint industry and regulator efforts to enhance chemical safety; additional voluntary outreach, training and educational efforts, and targeted inspections and enforcement, as necessary and appropriate to maintain the efficacy of the RMP.  For more information, please contact Marie Gargas.

    Recess is Over!

    Join us for the 2018 PLASTICs fly in – just a link to the fly in registion and any language from the email that went to every one for FLY in

  • Regrind Edition 1.3 August 16, 2018
    A baseball theme seems in order this week

    Regrind tries to keep it light, and in the dog days of summer you can often find the editor at a Nats game or youth baseball tournament… 

    Spring Training Long-shots all have a chance: Plastic material as a toxic waste? PLASTICS staff is tracking a new wrinkle in global regulatory developments via a prospect from Norway to use the Basel Convention to re-classify plastics materials as a hazardous waste and restrict movement of material between nations for recycling.  Basel is an international treaty primarily used to restrict dumping of hazardous materials on developing nations.  Norway wants to moving the material to “Annex 2” which would mean any international movement would need pre-clearance.  This proposal has a long way to go, and the sponsors have not yet shown any relationship between the trade of plastic material for international recycling and the creation of marine debris, but we are taking it seriously and working to scout the prospects for action in international forum.    For more information contact Scott DeFife sdefife@plasticsindustry.org

    First Pitch…Bringing high heat

    President Trump Doubles Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum from Turkey

    Citing national security concerns and the continuing detention of an American evangelical pastor, President Trump announced on August 10 that the U.S. will double the additional tariffs on steel to 50 percent and on aluminum to 20 percent imposed on imports from Turkey.Tariffs of 25-percent on steel and 10-percent on aluminum were announced in March after an investigation on national security concerns under Section 232 of the Trade Enforcement Act of 1974.

    Middle Innings …a back and forth affair

    Second Tranche of Chinese Tariffs Finalized; China Retaliates

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced August 7 a final second tranche of $16 billion in tariffs of an additional 25 percent on certain Chinese imports in response to an investigation of practices and policies of the Chinese government on intellectual property, technology theft and technology transfer under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The products impacted include subheadings beginning with 39 for plastics materials and products and subheadings beginning with 84 for plastics machinery. The tariffs will be imposed beginning on August 23. The first tranche of Chinese tariffs from the Section 301 investigation went into effect on July 6. A Federal Register Notice will be published to include the procedure and timeline for requesting exclusions for these tariffs. The Chinese Ministry of Finance immediately announced $16 billion in retaliatory tariffs of an additional 25 percent on certain U.S. exports to also take effect on August 23. Among the list of products are certain chemicals and plastic scraps translated here. A third list of products for proposed tariffs is currently in a public comment period. Please contact Suzanne Morgan if you have questions.

    Relief from the Bullpen

    Treasury and IRS Publish Proposed Rules on Tax Reform Provisions

    The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have issued proposed regulations regarding to provisions in the tax reform law passed in December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Please see the Federal Register Notices here for “bonus” depreciation and here for the 20-percent pass-through business deduction. There are comment periods for both proposed regulations.

    Good news from the Farms Teams (State Developments)

    Last week the California Dept of Finance released a fiscal analysis opposing SB 1335, which would authorize CalRecycle to develop a list of “acceptable materials” that can be used for foodservice ware in state facilities. This analysis includes several great talking points such as “(t)he bill results in cost pressures for state entities and facilities that are already required to meet fairly rigorous waste diversion and reduction requirements. Furthermore, the bill increases workload for CalRecycle and is unlikely to divert a large amount of waste or reduce a large amount of litter.” As previously reported, PLASTICS opposes SB 1335 because the legislation would dictate which materials are allowed to be used as food service packaging based on CalRecycle preference and not the recyclability of the material.  SB 1335 has been sent to the suspense file but the legislation is not dead. Bills are sent “to suspense file” when they have a fiscal impact of $150,000 or more. It will be heard at a later hearing. The analysis can be found here.

    West Coast Road Trip

    While at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit, Shannon Crawford and Brennan Georgianni took time to visit Titus MRF Services in Los Angeles, California. Titus began as a material handling equipment manufacturer, and now operates a secondary material recovery facility (MRF) in Los Angeles.

    Secondary MRFs play unique and important roles in the recycling value chain. One reason they are valuable is that they are able to run material, known as “residual,” that primary MRFs are left with at the end of their handling process. Often times, this residual has valuable material that was intended to be captured but that the primary MRF does not have time to re-run through the system. Secondary MRFs are able to run this material without blocking the supply of new material that a primary MRF would be interested in sorting. A secondary MRF is also able to capture material that a primary MRF wasn’t interested in sorting. There are numerous reasons a primary MRF wouldn’t collect a particular material or product, but a secondary MRF is able to obtain the value.

    Tony Alcaraz, Titus’ secondary MRF manager, lead Shannon and Brennan on the tour. Tony has worked for the company for nearly 15 years in a number of roles and has witnessed firsthand the changing recycling market. He’s overseen the installation of three optical sorters they use on site and the benefits of such efficient technology. However, he articulated the challenges recyclers still face in keeping pace with an ever-changing waste stream and finding customers for their output.

    PLASTICS remains committed to working with all stakeholders in the plastics supply chain to ensure that material is handled properly from the manufacturing process to the consumer and thereafter.

    Appealing the Ruling of the Umpire (Regulatory Matters)

    PLASTICS Seeks Member Input on OSHA Recordkeeping Proposed Rule

    In response to calls for OSHA to better protect worker privacy, OSHA proposed a rule that would amend its recordkeeping regulation (at 29 CFR 1904) and rescind a requirement (from a May 2016 rulemaking) for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 and the more detailed Form 301.  OSHA has “preliminarily determined” that certain risks, costs and burdens are ultimately “unjustified given the uncertain benefits of collecting the information.”  The proposal does not change a requirement for Form 300A summary information to be submitted by those facilities, or additional information to be provided upon specific request by OSHA.  The proposal would also add a requirement for covered establishments to provide include their Employer Identification Number (EIN) on their submissions. PLASTICS had submitted comments in March 2014, opposing the requirement when proposed. 

    Comments on this proposal are due by September 28 and we’re not anticipating extra innings.  To avoid a shutout of your views being heard, please touch base with Marie Gargas.

    Bill Reauthorizing CFATS is on deck

    Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) is a program operated by the Department of Homeland Security to protect high-risk chemical infrastructure. The authorizing legislation expires in January 2019 and so Congress is looking to update and renew. PLASTICS participates in a coalition of organizations and companies interested in changes to the language the improves the consistency and application of the program, as well as refines/clarifies program processes such as information confidentiality, appeals processes, and developing the site security plan. If your organization is interested in learning more about the proposed changes, or have experiences with the CFATS program that you would like to share with PLASTICS, please contact mgargas@plasticsindustry.org.

    Player of the Week

    Megan Hayes receives Standard Professional Certification

    During the 67th Annual Society for Standards Professional’s Conference in Nashville, TN, Megan Hayes, PLASTICS director for industry standards, received her Associate Standards Professional Certification. To receive this, Megan demonstrated fundamental knowledge of standards and application and demonstrated her continued dedication to the standards profession.

  • Regrind Edition 1.2 August 2, 2018
    The Hills are Alive with the Sound of … “straw bans?”

    Last week, Scott DeFife attended a global ocean plastics conference in Switzerland? Ok technically Julie Andrews sings about the Austrian Alps, but we were only on the other side of the mountains. 

    PLASTICS represented the plastics industry at the Klosters Forum on marine debris.  Scott presented on the many benefits of plastics to the environment and commerce, and rolled up his sleeves to sit down with NGO and global policy leaders to discuss remedies to the problem of ocean plastics.  There was a wide variety of stakeholders in attendance, including academics from around the world, brand-owner companies of consumer products, material producers and innovators with engineering and finance solutions working together to advance common understanding of the scope of the problem and policy alternatives.    Our presence helped convey the interest of the industry to be a part of the solution to the problem of marine debris, and we were able to make great connections with other solutions-oriented groups that want to collaborate with industry.  The most important take-away for Regrind Readers, however, should be that if you think 2018 has more than its fair share of plastic product material debates, stay tuned, because there are many more fronts opening up in the debate on plastics production.  International NGOs and European regulators are examining an array of policies in an effort to advance circular economy concepts, and will use international policy forums to continue those efforts.  Asian economies will continue to change policies regarding import of post-industrial and post-consumer material from North America and Europe.  It will be increasingly critical that the industry work to be a part of the solution, and to advance collection and disposal infrastructure at home and abroad.

    California Dreamin…

    The PLASTICS State affairs team is in Los Angeles this week attending the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) meeting.  While there, they are working to educate state policy makers to the benefit of plastic products and materials and to help make sense of the policies aimed at disposable plastic products and regulation of materials at the state and local level.  While there, they are so much closer to Sacramento, they can visit with legislators from around the country and get a jump on action in the California Assembly at the same time! 

    The California Legislature reconvenes on Monday, August 6 following their summer recess. PLASTICS is still tracking seven key pieces of legislation that could impact the industry.

    • AB 958 - Requires a manufacturer of food packaging or cookware, as defined, that is sold in the state to visibly disclose on an exterior location of the food packaging or cookware packaging a specified statement relating to the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
    • AB 1884 - Prohibits a food facility, where food may be consumed on the premises, from providing single use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the consumer. Specifies that the first and second violations of these provisions would result in a warning and any subsequent violation would be an infraction punishable by a specified fine for each day the food facility is in violation.
    • AB 3178 - Amends the Integrated Waste Management Act. Makes findings, including, among others, that under China' s National Sword import policy, many recyclable materials are now banned and may no longer be imported into that country, which has had a profound impact on state efforts to meet state recycling objectives. Requires the Department to consider the extent to which a jurisdiction has made efforts to reduce contamination and improve the quality of recycled materials.
    • SB 168 - Amends the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act. Relates to the minimum refund value for beverage containers. Relates to requirements of using post filled glass in manufacturing of glass food, drink, or beverage containers. Requires the study of existing extended producer responsibility programs to replace the current recycling program.
    • SB 1263 - Requires the State Ocean Protection Council to adopt and implement a Statewide Microplastics Strategy relating to microplastic materials that pose an emerging concern for ocean health and that includes specified components, to the extent funds are available from bonds or other sources.
    • SB 1335 - Enacts the Sustainable Packaging for the State of California Act. Prohibits a food service facility located in a state owned facility, acting as a concessionaire on state property, or under contract to provide food service to a state agency, from dispensing prepared food using a type of food service packaging with exception. Requires the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to evaluate the list of approved types of food service packaging.
    • SB 1422 - Requires the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt regulations requiring testing for and reporting of the amount of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of those results.

    If you have questions regarding any of these bills, please contact PLASTICS state government affairs team at gov@plasticsindustry.org.

    In the Summertime, when the weather is Hot (in DC)

    There is always a flurry of activity late in the Summer as Congress works to get out of town for August…

    Et Tu, Congress? The Fate of Plastic Straws on Capitol Hill (update…)

    Both the House and Senate Legislative Branch appropriations measures contain language that could eventually eliminate plastic straws from the capitol grounds. HR. 5895, the Fiscal 2019 Energy and Water Development, Legislative Branch, and MilCon-VA Appropriations Minibus was amended on both the House and Senate floors to contain different though similar language on straws. However, since the House and Senate passed their own versions of the appropriations measure a conference committee has been appointed to work out the differences. There remains a gap on funding levels between the two chambers which has slowed the conference process down making it unclear exactly when a final bill will be considered. PLASTICS staff has expressed our opposition to the proposals, and is working with the conferees to find language that could be acceptable to all parties. We will continue to provide updates as they happen.

    Bioplastics Supported in Farm Bill negotiations

    Both the House and Senate have named members to the conference committee which will negotiate a compromise Farm Bill 2018. Passed every five years, the Farm Bill is the major vehicle for Congressional appropriation and policy for US agriculture. PLASTICS has written a letter to conferees encouraging them to continue to support the emerging US bioeconomy, which includes robust funding for the BioPreferred Program.

    U.S. – E.U. Trade Announcement

    President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met at the White House on July 25 and issued a joint statement that the United States and the European Union will “work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” Highlighted was the intention to increase trade and reduce barriers on specific products including chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical products. Not included in the statement was an end to the steel and aluminum tariffs but only agreement to resolve the tariffs. Both parties committed to a “close dialogue” on trade issues including organizing an “Executive Working Group” of high-level advisors to move the agenda forward.

    Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Passes Senate

    By a voice vote on July 26, the Senate passed an amended version of H.R. 4318, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 or MTB, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). The House passed its version by a vote of 402-0 on January 16. MTB would temporarily reduce or suspend tariffs for as many as three years on a variety of imported products, including chemicals and plastics, with limited or no availability from domestic sourcing. The legislation includes nearly 1,700 petitions from the 1,800 petitions recommended by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in its final report of 2,525 petitions received from U.S. businesses for tariff relief. The last MTB was passed in 2012, and a new petition process established under a 2016 law was used for this bill. In the past, members of Congress submitted bills proposing tariff changes to the ITC for review and recommendation. Once the amended bill is concurred with by the House and signed into law by President Trump, the ITC will begin accepting petitions in 2019. No date has been announced for House action. PLASTICS supports the enactment of H.R. 4318.

    Medical Device Tax Repeal Passes House

    On July 24, the House of Representatives voted 283-132 to permanently repeal the tax on the sale of medical devices. H.R. 184, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2018, was sponsored by Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and cosponsored by 279 bipartisan members of the House. The legislation repeals the 2.3 percent tax that was one of the original funding mechanisms for the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and went into effect in 2013. Concerned about the impact of the tax on manufacturing jobs and innovation, the medical device manufacturing community, including PLASTICS, lobbied vigorously to include moratoriums on the tax from 2016 to 2019. Action in the Senate is unclear, but repeal of the tax has bipartisan support, particularly from Democrats who represent states with medical device manufacturing companies. If passed by the Senate, the repeal would be in effect for any sales of medical devices after December 31, 2019.

    House Republicans Unveil “Tax Reform 2.0” Framework

    Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced on July 24 the framework for the next round of tax reform. Entitled “Tax Reform 2.0,” the framework, lacks specific details but includes three main points: 1) making permanent individual tax rates and small business tax cuts signed into law in December 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) and set to expire in 2025; 2) promoting retirement savings including new Universal Savings Accounts (USA) and expanding 529 education accounts to pay for apprenticeships for job training; and 3) stimulating innovation to allow start-ups to write off more initial costs and removing other tax barriers for entrepreneurship. “Tax Reform 2.0” could also include technical corrections from the TCJA needed to be passed as well as the repeal of amortization of research and development (R&D) tax credits included in the TCJA and set to go into effect on January 1, 2022. PLASTICS will be taking an active role on the repeal of amortization.

    Under Pressure...

    Administration Considers Increasing Proposed Tariffs to 25 Percent

    President Trump has directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider increasing the proposed additional tariffs on the latest list of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent. The Chinese Government immediately threatened retaliation. The proposed tariffs were originally announced on July 10. The list includes plastics products as well as some plastics materials and plastics machinery not included on previous lists. The Administration took the action of imposing additional tariffs on Chinese imports as a result of an investigation of practices and policies of the Chinese government on intellectual property, technology theft and technology transfer under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. A Federal Register Notice (FRN) could be published in a few days. Unless revised in the FRN, the public comment period announced on July 10 continues with written comments due by August 17 and rebuttal comments due by August 30. A public hearing is scheduled for August 20, and requests to testify were to be submitted by July 27. Please contact Suzanne Morgan if you have questions.   

    President Trump Signs Legislation to Enhance Career and Technical Education

    President Trump signed on July 31 an amended version of H.R. 2353, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The legislation, sponsored by Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), reauthorizes and updates the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to provide increased federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs to help more students gain the skills they need to compete for high-demand jobs, such as in the plastics industry. The House passed H.R. 2353 by a voice vote in June of 2017, and the Senate passed its language also by a voice vote last week, on July 23. The House then concurred with the Senate amendment on July 25. PLASTICS has supported the passage of a reformed “Perkins” bill for several sessions of Congress.

    President Signs Executive Order on Workforce Development

    President Trump signed an Executive Order on July 19, the Pledge to America’s Workers initiative, to encourage skills development and job training and to make the expansion of workforce development opportunities a national priority. The executive order establishes a National Council for the American Worker, a panel to include members of the cabinet and other government officials, charged with developing a national strategy on workforce development and implementing recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. In addition, an advisory board of representatives from the public and private sectors will also be appointed to develop further recommendations. PLASTICS has identified workforce development as a key issue for the future of plastics manufacturing.

    Department of Labor Rescinds Obama-Era “Persuader” Rule; Legislation Introduced

    On July 17, the Department of Labor (DOL) fully rescinded the Obama Administration’s “persuader” rule. The rule would have required employers and their attorneys or consultants to publicly disclose agreements they entered into regarding labor relations matters. The rule was finalized in April 2016 and never went into effect as it was permanently enjoined in November 2016. The rescission takes effect on August 17. Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation to codify the “persuader” rule. H.R. 5728, the Workplace Democracy Act, is sponsored in the House by Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) and S. 2810 sponsored in the Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and H.R. 6080, the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, is sponsored in the House by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and S. 3064 sponsored in the Senate by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Neither bill is expected to see action during this Congress. PLASTICS opposed the “persuader” rule during the Obama Administration.   

  • Regrind 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

  • Regrind 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…

    California may lead the nation in anti-plastics proposals, but many other states and cities are trying to keep pace.

    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.