Dear Senator Smith,
On behalf of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the nation’s largest statewide business association whose members provide one million jobs in New Jersey, please except our comments on Senate Bill No. 2515 concerning recycled content in various packaging.
In researching this legislation, we are struck both by the complexity of incorporating recycled material content into packaging and the significant voluntary efforts being made by industry to increase recycled content. These two points should not be ignored. While we are supportive of this effort because we realize that it creates an additional market for recyclables, we are also concerned that mandates can lead to increased costs, the establishment of standards that cannot be met, and unsanitary products being introduced into the consumer market. There is a reason why only two states have adopted any recycled product content legislation and why no other state has followed suit in the last two decades.
We realize that none of these outcomes are your intent and we appreciate the deliberative process that you have put in place to date. However, we recognize that different packaging has different challenges, different markets need different considerations, and that there are various efforts being made at the national level by manufacturers to address these issues. We are not convinced that a state solution is needed at this time but we are convinced that this legislation cannot work in its current form.
We defer to our industry specific colleagues on the technical issues surrounding this legislation. However, we offer some general observations. One, most of the concerns we have heard surround the mandated content levels and the time frames to meet them. They are not realistic. The legislation should not attempt to “push the technology” or be the most stringent in the nation. The issues are too complicated and the impacts too significant. Rather, we hope that you listen to industry experts and tailor the legislation around what is feasible.
We are also concerned with mandates that may jeopardize food safety. The content of food packaging is highly regulated and must take into account its connection to food products. Food safety must trump recycled content standards. We cannot allow hazardous materials to be in our food packaging.
Moving forward we would ask that you continue your deliberative approach toward this legislation and use the Task Force model you have successfully employed when seeking resolution to other difficult problems. By creating a Task Force to develop consensus legislation we can have recyclers, manufacturers, product users, and environmentalists meeting together in a joint effort to find common ground and workable solutions. I would be happy to help you in this endeavor.
Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on this legislation.