Californians will have a better idea of what’s headed for landfills instead of recycling centers under one of several related bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law. It sets the nation’s strictest standards for which items can display the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol, advocates say.

Consumers assume that the symbol showing three circular arrows means that items should go into curbside recycling bins, California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling said earlier this year. It recommended that the symbol “be reserved for materials which are accepted in curbside bins and do not cause contamination.”

“It’s dishonest, it’s not fair to companies that have invested in actually making their products recyclable, and it’s not fair to consumers who pay more for something that they think will be better for the environment,” said Californians Against Waste Director of Advocacy Nick Lapis. Sorting materials that can’t be recycled from bins increases garbage rates, he added.

Opponents countered that the bill is so restrictive it could send more items to landfills. The state regulators’ list showing what’s recyclable could wind up including just eight types of paper materials, two forms of glass, two types of metals, two types of plastics and one type of colored plastic, predicted a coalition of 14 opposition organizations.

The state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery now has until Jan. 1, 2024, to publish a study on what is recyclable. The new law exempts products and packaging that is manufactured up to 18 months after the study is published. Several states have been trying to stem confusion about recycling after a Consumer Brands Association report recently found it contributed to “a broken recycling system in America.”

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Author: Don Thompson, AP
Image: Rich Pedroncelli, AP