As California lawmakers move ahead on what would be the strictest limits in the U.S. on single-use packaging, one plastics industry group is endorsing a fee on takeout food packaging in the state to raise $100 million a year to fund recycling and litter cleanup projects. The plastics division of the American Chemistry Council is floating a plan to lawmakers in Sacramento for a per-container fee on takeout food service packaging of all materials — not just plastics.

Endorsing a packaging fee is a policy change for the Washington-based group and comes as lawmakers in California will hold what are expected to be intense discussions on their legislation in coming weeks aimed at passing it. On one level, ACC’s position reflects increasing political pressure around plastic waste in the state. But it’s also a realization, ACC executives said, that more money will be needed to realize “ambitious” environmental goals ACC has set, like its 2018 plan to have 100 percent of plastics packaging recoverable or recyclable by 2030.

“We have suggested an advanced recycling fee for some of our packaging producers, those that are predominantly in the takeout food service packaging arena, that are traditionally held up as examples of marine debris and litter,” said Tim Shestek, senior director of state affairs for ACC, in July 3 testimony at a California Senate hearing.

“We think that would be a significant contributor toward helping finance some of the necessary infrastructure improvements,” he told lawmakers.

The bill in California would require a state agency, CalRecycle, to set regulations to cut waste from single-use packaging and what it calls “priority single-use plastic products” by 75 percent by 2030.

It would also require single-use plastic packaging or other priority single-use products to meet progressively tougher recycling rates to be allowed to be sold in the state, potentially starting at 20 percent in 2024 and rising to 40 percent by 2028 and 75 percent by 2030.

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