Vol. 1320 | 26 Aug 2022

In an effort to reduce pollution and tackle climate change, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54) on Jun 30, 2022, requiring all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032. California’s SB 54 is one of the most comprehensive plastic legislations to be passed, based on input received from businesses, environmental organizations, and waste management groups. The law will impact manufacturers and sellers of all goods offered for sale in California.

Law will require all plastic-covered materials offered in California to be recycled at the following levels:

  • At least 30 percent on and after Jan 1, 2028.
  • At least 40 percent on and after Jan 1, 2030.
  • At least 65 percent on and after Jan 1, 2032.

In addition, the producers of covered material are required to join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) by Jan 1, 2024, or be prohibited from selling importing or distributing covered materials in California. The PRO aims to implement methods of source reduction, collection, processing and recovering of the covered materials through registration, reporting, recordkeeping, and auditing requirements.


“Covered material” include:

  • Single-use packaging that is routinely recycled, disposed of, or discarded after its contents have been used or unpackaged, and typically not refilled or otherwise reused by the producer.​
  • Plastic single-use food service ware, including, but not limited to, plastic-coated paper or plastic-coated paperboard, paper or paperboard with plastic intentionally added during the manufacturing process, and multilayer flexible material. “Single-use food service ware” includes both of the following:
    1. Trays, plates, bowls, clamshells, lids, cups, utensils, stirrers, hinged or lidded containers, and straws.​
    2. Wraps or wrappers and bags sold to food service establishments.


“Covered material” does not include:

  • Packaging used for any of the following products:
    1. Medical products and products defined as devices or prescription drugs.
    2. Drugs used in animal medicines, including, but not limited to parasiticide products for animals.
    3. Products intended for animals that are regulated as animal drugs, biologics, parasiticides, medical devices or diagnostics used to treat or administered to animals.
    4. Infant formula
    5. Medical food
    6. Fortified oral nutritional supplements used for special dietary needs, related to diseases or malnutrition etc.
  • Packaging used to contain products regulated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
  • Plastic packaging containers for shipping classified and dangerous products or hazardous materials under 49 CFR 178.
  • Packaging used to contain hazardous or flammable products regulated by the 2012 federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazard Communications Standard (29 C.F.R. 1910.1200).
  • Beverage containers subject to the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act.
  • Packaging used for the long-term protection or storage of a product that has a lifespan of not less than five years, as determined by the department.
  • Packaging associated with products under the California Architectural Paint Recovery Program.
  • Covered material for which the producer demonstrates to the department that the covered material meets all the following criteria:
    1. The covered material is not collected through a residential recycling collection service.
    2. The covered material does not undergo separation from other materials at a commingled recycling processing facility.
    3. The covered material is recycled at a responsible end market.
    4. The material has demonstrated a recycling rate of 65 percent for three consecutive years prior to Jan 1, 2027, and on and after that date demonstrates a recycling rate at or over 70 percent annually, as demonstrated to the department every two years.

    (ii) If only a portion of the covered material sold in or into the state by a producer meets the criteria of clause (i), only the portion of the covered material that meets the criteria of clause (i) is exempt from this chapter and any portion that does not meet the criteria is a covered material for purposes of this chapter.


As part of SB 54, state-mandated local recycling programs will include covered material in their collection and recycling programs. Specific information shall be reported to CalRecycle:

  • Disposal of tonnages by jurisdiction that is disposed of at each disposal facility.
  • Recycling and composting operations must report types and quantities of materials disposed of,
    sold, or transferred to other facilities, end users or exporters, brokers, or transporters inside or outside California.
  • Exporters, brokers, self-haulers and transporters of recyclables or compost should report information concerning types, quantities, and destination of materials that they handle.

The link to the legislation is: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB54

For questions, please contact Harini Ramaswamy (harini.ramaswamy@intertek.com, +1 224-318-0220), or Dr. Pratik Ichhaporia (pratik.ichhaporia@intertek.com, +1 847 212 8273).


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