A coalition of plastic film recyclers and reusable bag manufacturers has launched the Responsible Recycling Alliance (RRA) in the US state of California.

The RRA’s founding members – EFS Plastics, Merlin Plastics and PreZero US – oppose two bills pending in the State Legislature (AB 2236 and SB 1053) that would eliminate reusable plastic film grocery bags in the state.

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The coalition strongly advocates for the addition of reusable plastic film grocery bags to the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Program (SB 54).

On behalf of the RRA, PreZero US vice-president of public affairs Roxanne Spiekerman explained: “While I am certain that the proponents of these bills have the best of intentions, as written this legislation would roll back environmental gains, make shopping more expensive for low-income Californians, eliminate jobs across California and make it more difficult for SB 54 to succeed in improving plastic film recycling in the state.”

The RRA states that reusable plastic film grocery bags are made in California, contain at least 40% recycled post-consumer content (PCR) and can be recycled into new bags and other materials.

The members oppose canvas and sewn poly-woven or non-woven polypropylene bags and paper bags, citing a lack of recyclability and reusability, as well as increased carbon emissions from water and energy consumption.

This argument was echoed by environmental packaging technology company Symphony Environmental in early 2024 when its CEO Michael Laurier asserted that regular plastic materials should be upgraded rather than banned outright.

According to the RRA, adding reusable plastic film grocery bags into SB 54 will provide easy collection for Californians to provide the necessary volume for plastic film recycling, protect middle and lower-income Californians from paying more for alternative bags, and preserve jobs in the state’s reusable plastic film grocery bag manufacturing and recycling industry.

Spiekerman concludes: “It’s important to note that plastic film bag producers, as defined by SB 54, are the ones who will pay to fund the plastics collection infrastructure and the system-wide improvements necessary to ensure that plastic film is recycled.”