On October 5, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1201 by Assembly members Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Devon Mathis(R-Visalia). AB 1201 expands product-labeling requirements related to biodegradability and compostability from plastic products to all products.
Section One of the bill amends the heading for Chapter 5.7 of Part 3 of Division 30 of the Public Resources Code to title it “Products.” Section Two of the bill amends Section 42356 of the Public Resources Code, which contains numerous definitions. The first change is to delete the word plastic and insert the word product for manufacturers who produce a product. The second change is to delete the definition of “plastic product” and instead use the term “product” and what a “product” includes.
Section Three of the bill amends Section 42356.1 of the Public Resources Code to add a new subdivision specifying that “fiber products that are demonstrated to not incorporate any plastics or polymers, including, but not limited to, through lamination, extrusion, or mixing, are not required to comply with an ASTM standard specification pursuant to this chapter.”
Section Four of the bill amends Section 42357 of the Public Resources Code to change “a person shall not sell a plastic product in this state that is labeled with the term ‘compostable’ or ‘home compostable’ unless the product meets the applicable ASTM standard specification” to not include the word “plastic” and to now provide that a person is prohibited from selling or offering for sale such products. In addition, the bill deleted the word “plastic” in from of “product” in each instance found in this code section. And, a product labeled with the term “home compostable” must meet the standard adopted by CalRecycle.
Section Four also adds several new subdivisions to Section 42357. It prohibits a person from selling or offering for sale a product in California that is labeled “compostable” or “home compostable” unless the product satisfies the following five requirements:
- If any standard specification is applicable to the product and CalRecycle has approved a third-party certification entity to certify products according to that standard specification, the product is certified that it meets at least one such standard from an approved third-party certification entity for the standard. This requirement applies starting January 1, 2024 and there must be for at least one year a third-party certification entity approved by CalRecycle to provide the applicable certification.
- Starting January 1, 2026, the product is an allowable agricultural organic input under the requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program. If CalRecycle determines that bifurcation is feasible and would enable efficient processing by solid waste processing facilities, the CalRecycle must adopt regulations by January 1, 2026 to establish a bifurcated approach. The CalRecycle director may grant a five-year extension for complying with this requirement if specified circumstances are met.
- The product does not have a total organic fluorine concentration of greater than 100 parts per million, unless CalRecycle adopts a different standard that it determines would more effectively limit the presence of perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances.
- The product is labeled in a manner that distinguishes the product from a noncompostable product upon reasonable inspection by consumers and to help enable efficient processing by solid waste processing facilities.
- The product is designed to be associated with the recovery of desirable organic wastes, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, that are collected for composting, unless the product complies with CalRecycle’s regulations, if adopted.
Finally, CalRecycle may adopt regulations for determining whether products comply with specified requirements. CalRecycle, in adopting regulations, may consider whether the regulations are consistent with the product labeling requirements of other states, stakeholder input, and industry-standard guidelines. The regulations may include requirements that products are not designed, pigmented, or advertised in a manner that is misleading to consumers.
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