Bill To Increase Post-Consumer Recycled Content for Plastics Passes! Assembly Votes 48-23-3 & Senate Votes 22-15 on Session’s Last Voting Day

Media Contacts

Environment New Jersey

Trenton – Today, the New Jersey Assembly voted 48-23-3 and the New Jersey Senate voted 22-15 to approve the Recycled Content bill (S2515/A4676) on the final day of the legislative session. The bill would require increasing post-consumer recycled content in a variety of packaging products including plastic containers, plastic beverage containers, plastic & paper bags, plastic trash bags & glass containers. The legislation now goes to Gov. Murphy who will have 7 days to decide the bill’s fate.

Environmental advocates across the state applauded the Legislature’s concurrent votes to pass S2515/ A4676 and thank the leadership of the Senate prime sponsor, Senate Environment Chair Bob Smith. The bill would require post-consumer recycled content in a variety of packaging products including:

  • After two years, rigid plastic containers and bottles will be required to now respectively meet 10% and 15% post-consumer recycled content and increase that percentage until reaching 50%.
  • Sets content standards and benchmarks for glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags. 
  • Ban plastic packing peanuts.

“Clean Ocean Action is thrilled that New Jersey continues to be a leader in legislative solutions to address the plastic pollution plague and crisis. This recycled content bill is a vital step toward a cleaner, healthier future. Since 1984, COA has been relentlessly sounding the alarm about our excessive plastic consumption and troubling recycling practices due to plastics polluting our coastal environments, rivers, streams, and communities,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “We thank the bill’s champion, NJ Senator Bob Smith, the bill’s sponsors, and the members of the Assembly and Senate who supported the bill and worked to help pass it by the end of this session. Years of data generated by COA’s biannual Beach Sweeps confirm what residents and visitors see and experience everyday: plastics litter our beaches and our communities. This data suggests one trend is unequivocal: single-use plastic items are on the rise and it’s past time to act. We urge Gov. Murphy to sign this bill.”

“This is an exciting watershed moment for New Jersey and the East Coast. Recycling markets are already improving as a result of recycled content policies like this one. New Jersey is now perfectly positioned to serve as the regional and national leader for the next zero waste paradigm shift – one that prioritizes waste prevention, reuse, and redesign,” said Maura Toomey, Zero Waste Organizer, Clean Water Action New Jersey.

“New Jersey faces a plastic pollution crisis for our communities, the Shore, and our parks. We can’t recycle our way out of this crisis and this recycled content bill will set a national standard to moving towards using more recycled content – and not virgin plastic – for plastic containers. We urge Gov. Murphy to sign this bill as quickly as possible and we thank the leadership of Sen. Bob Smith to get this bill over the finish line,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey.

This bill is essential to support recycling markets so that virgin single-use plastics can be eliminated from the waste stream, keeping them out of landfills, incinerators, and off the Jersey Shore.

“Plastic pollution is a huge problem in our state and this legislation is a major step forward in dealing with this issue. The main objective of the plastic content recycling bill is to reduce the production of virgin plastic, increase the use of recycled content, enhance the recycled plastics market and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of packaging. The Sierra Club, New Jersey Chapter applauds the sponsors and supporters of this piece of legislation that will help tackle our plastic waste problem in the state,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, Director of the Sierra Club, NJ Chapter. “It’s imperative that Governor Murphy quickly signs the bill so that we can take one step forward in reducing plastic waste in the state.”

There are similar laws in other East Coast states including Connecticut, Maryland, and Maine. Other states are considering similar legislation and will follow New Jersey’s lead as they did with the plastic carryout bag ban. A New Jersey recycled content law will set the standard for recycling across the East Coast.

“Our oceans, waves, and beaches will surely appreciate less plastic on them and beach lovers will too,” said John Weber, Mid Atlantic Regional Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “More value for recyclable materials will mean less getting littered and more getting recycled.”

Corporate promises to use recycled materials aren’t enough, according to the environmental groups working to drive support for the bill over the past two years.

“It’s nice to see New Jersey leading the way in recycling again. The Jersey Shore and Barnegat Bay will be cleaner places to visit if recycling backs on track. Kudos to our Legislature for taking a step in the right direction,” said Britta Forsberg, Executive Director, Save Barnegat Bay.

“Passage of this bill in New Jersey is enormously important – particularly in such a vital coastal state.  Plastic pollution plagues our rivers and ocean, damages low-income communities where plastics are made and burned, and have achieved anemic recycling rates. This is a stellar policy that should be noticed by other states who want to get serious about plastic pollution,” said Judith Enck, President of Beyond Plastics and former EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator.