American Recycler News, Inc.


Revised plastic container rules take effect in California

aPlastic packaging gets a green boost in 2013 as revised regulations go into effect in California that are intended to decrease the use of new plastic and increase the use of recycled postconsumer plastic to manufacture rigid containers.

For more specific information, see CalRecycle’s updated RPPC home page and full text of the regulations.

At issue are a wide variety of rigid plastic packaging containers, or RPPCs, such as bottles, buckets and the clamshells often found enclosing or protecting products. The revised rules expand the definition of an RPPC and provide additional options for product manufacturers to demonstrate compliance. Some of the products impacted by the revised rules include cleaning supplies, tools, consumer electronics and hardware.

“RPPCs are ubiquitous – just go into any store or online and you’ll get an idea how abundant plastic packaging is,” said Caroll Mortensen, director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). “Many product manufacturers are already using packaging that contains recycled plastics. The revised rules provide even more opportunities for product manufacturers to reduce the amount of plastics ending up in California’s landfills and the ocean.”

CalRecycle is working with industry representatives to enhance their understanding of the regulations, and intends to host a workshop on the regulations in July.

In general terms, under both the old and the revised rules, a regulated RPPC sold in California must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • It must be made from at least 25 percent postconsumer plastic;
  • The container weight must be reduced by at least 10 percent;
  • The RPPC must be “reusable” and routinely reused at least 5 times; or
  • It must be recycled at a 45 percent recycling rate.

Under the revised rules:

  • Product manufacturers must register with CalRecycle.

To ensure compliance, visit CalRecycle’s registration page at

  • Product manufacturers that sell products in RPPCs in California are responsible for using compliant RPPCs. California sales include remote sales through distributors and/or wholesalers and through the Internet;
  • The RPPC must be capable of at least one closure (including closure during the manufacturing process);
  • The “reusable” term now excludes containers that store original products for sale; and,
  • Manufacturers cannot switch to using a different plastic resin in an RPPC to achieve a 10 percent weight reduction.