The Business Council opposes this legislation, which would amend the Environmental Conservation Law to outlaw the use of any device used to connect beverage containers that is made of plastic. Currently, state law allows for use of such plastic connectors if they can decompose by photodegradation or biodegradation, or if they comply with minimum post-consumer recycled material content, are made of recycleable resins, and meet size standards. The ban would take effect in less than 18 months, on January 1, 2022.
The sponsor’s bill memo justifies this proposal, in part, by citing the recent availability of packaging material plant-based biodegradable fibers. While alternative materials may be coming available, their widespread use will require capital upgrades in the beverage industry to install new equipment designed to employer alternative materials.
The beverage industry, like many business sectors, has been and continues to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 crisis, which has shut down or reduced operation of many distribution venues, including sports facilities, restaurant and bars, campuses, theaters and others. The industry estimates a $17 billion reduction in U.S. sales so far in 2020, as well as the elimination of 9,000 industry jobs.
Regardless of the merits of this proposal, the middle of a significant national recession is the wrong time to impose new capital costs on an industry experiencing a significant revenue downturn, especially for a measure with such marginal environmental impacts.
The beverage and packaging industry has undertaken a number of measures to reduce material use, to expand recycling, and to reduce its overall environmental footprint.
We recommend that the state legislature work with these industries to support such efforts, rather than imposing expensive, limited impact packaging mandates.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of S.6647-A (Krueger) / A.8305-A (Paulin).