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PLASTICS' Government Affairs
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The Threat of an EPR Domino Effect
ICYMI: PLASTICS Spring Meeting Highlights Recycling Legislation and Diversity & Inclusion Importance
Keep the Conversation Going with PLASTICS and OSHA on Hazard Communication


The Threat of an EPR Domino Effect

Shannon Crawford, Director, State Government Affairs

A Maine EPR bill was voted out of committee this week. Despite significant concerns with the legislation, it is being rushed towards passage before the legislative session ends on June 16. Policy is only as effective as the process through which it is created. Bad process leads to bad policy. This misguided EPR bill passed without thorough consideration and could lead to the first statewide EPR policy in the United States. It likely wouldn’t be the last.

There are two versions of extended producer responsibility legislation in Maine. LD 1541, backed by The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), is overly prescriptive and is opposed by PLASTICS. The industry alternative, LD 1471, is more practical and would allow more flexibility.

LD 1541 - An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money. This EPR legislation was developed by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).

LD 1471 - An Act To Establish a Stewardship Program for Packaging.  This legislation was developed by the packaging industry as an alternative to the EPR proposal pushed by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).

Both bills were heard in a Joint Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 10. Despite a strong showing of industry support for LD 1471, the Chair decided to rush LD 1541 through committee consideration without taking significant amendments. The committee advanced the bill on an 8-3 vote on May 24. Legislation of this size and scope is typically required to undergo a “major substantive rulemaking” to ensure proper implementation. However, the author has refused to include one. This decision is purely a political calculation as the proponent of the legislation wants to rush this rulemaking through under the current Maine Administration and not risk dealing with a new one.

We expect a tough fight over final amendments, but ultimately passage. As this bill stands, PLASTICS is strongly opposed and will be working with a broad coalition of industry groups and companies to keep this bill from becoming law as currently written.

For more information on our state work, please contact Shannon Crawford.

ICYMI: PLASTICS Spring Meeting Highlights Recycling Legislation and Diversity & Inclusion Importance

John Grant, Director, Government Affairs
Suzanne Morgan, Senior Director, Government Affairs & Grassroots Advocacy

PLASTICS advocacy efforts were on full display at last week’s PLASTICS Spring Meeting. On the first morning of the event, U.S. Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) provided an encouraging update on bipartisan efforts to reduce plastic waste and improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry. Stevens, while speaking during a session on the policy landscape for the industry stressed innovation as the answer to the plastic waste issue and not bans. Her Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act (HR 2821) was introduced last month along with U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). The bipartisan legislation establishes a research and development program, directs the Federal government to develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction, and calls for the development of standards for plastics recycling technologies.

As chair of the House Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Recycling Caucus, Stevens is in a perfect position to lead on policies directly impacting future innovations addressing plastic waste. In addition to plastic recycling, workforce issues are also top of mind for the Michigan Representative. Having just gotten done with one of her “Manufacturing Monday” meetings with an employer in her district, she outlined a number of important steps Congress is looking to take to address the difficulties many manufacturers are having filling the many vacancies and personnel shortages. It is possible a hearing on Representative Stevens’ bill could be held in the Science Subcommittee sometime this summer.

Spring Meeting attendees also saw a panel of industry leaders and human resources experts discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in plastics manufacturing companies. D&I has been not only a focus, but nearly a requirement for interactions with the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats. PLASTICS staff has seen D&I highlighted in Executive Orders signed by President Joe Biden and legislation introduced on Capitol Hill. Representatives from four PLASTICS members discussed best practices used by their companies, and a D&I expert from the National Association of Manufacturers gave a primer on the issue as well as best practices being followed by manufacturing companies around the country.

For more information on recycling legislation, please contact John Grant. For D&I activities, please contact Suzanne Morgan.

Keep the Conversation Going with PLASTICS and OSHA on Hazard Communication

Marie Gargas, Senior Technical Director, Regulatory Affairs

If you missed providing input to PLASTICS’ comments on OSHA’s proposed update to the Hazard Communication Standard—or have more to add—we still want to hear from you! As requested by PLASTICS and other stakeholders, OSHA has announced an informal public hearing which will be held virtually on September 21. This provides additional opportunity to voice members’ support for some elements of the proposal and express strong objection to others that are substantially flawed.

Most companies in the plastics industry generate or use a significant number of chemicals subject to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). PLASTICS weighed in on the last update in 2012. The intent of OSHA’s proposed rulemaking in February included conforming with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7.

PLASTICS submitted comments supporting OSHA’s efforts to achieve its stated objectives without lowering the overall protections of the standard, but not the proposal as written. Some of the most egregious items addressed in our comments were an inappropriate expansion of the scope, shifting responsibility for who identifies and classifies the hazards of downstream chemical reactions, and a problematic definition of “combustible dust.” OSHA missed the mark in its approach, and we made clear that the objectives would be better served by modifying the proposal to reduce or eliminate uncertainty and avoid unintended consequences.

These are but a few of the issues addressed in PLASTICS’ comments. We welcome further member engagement to strengthen our advocacy on elements of the HCS proposal that you support or oppose. Notice of the informal hearing was published on May 20; only those who file notice of their intent to appear can submit materials in a post-hearing comment period, after which OSHA will finalize the rule.

For more information, please contact Marie Gargas.