Recycled content law will also ban styrofoam peanuts

In January, 2022, NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed into law legislation requiring an increase in the content of post-consumer recycled plastics, glass and paper in various packaging products (S2515/A4676).

Beginning in 2024…

  • sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (“peanuts”) will be prohibited.
  • rigid plastic containers shall contain at least 10% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to 20%; in 2030 to 30%; in 2033 to 40%; in 2036 to 50%. (Exclusions are made for plastic containers for drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, cosmetics, toxic or hazardous products, and for refillable/reusable containers.)
  • plastic beverage containers (bottles, etc.) shall contain at least 15% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to 20%; in 2030 to 25%; in 2033 to 30%; in 2036 to 35%; in 2039 to 40%; in 2042 to 45%; in 2045 to 50%. (An exclusion is made for refillable beverage containers.)
  • glass containers shall contain at least 35% post-consumer recycled content. However, if at least half of the recycled content is mixed-color waste glass, then minimum proportion is lowered to 25%.
  • paper carry-out bags shall contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content. However, if the bag holds 8 pounds or less, then the minimum recycled content is lowered to 20%.
  • plastic carry-out bags shall contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this increases to 40%.
  • plastic trash bags shall contain at least 5% to 20% (depending on thickness) post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to between 10% and 40%. (Exclusions are made for trash bags used for medical and hazardous wastes.)

Note that packages or containers for milk products, plant-based “milk” products, medical food, and infant formula are exempt from the above requirements for recycled content.

Summaries and commentary about the new law were published on the websites WasteDive, Resource Recycling, and Beyond Plastics (and elsewhere).