Plastic bag law violated by retailers

Large retailers are breaking California law and deceiving consumers by selling plastic shopping bags bearing language and symbols falsely suggesting the bags can be recycled, a state-appointed commission said this month, reports Reuters.

The group has called on California to force retailers to remove the ubiquitous “arrow hunt” logo and the words “recycle” and “recyclable,” Reuters has learned.

If successful, this ruling could render the bags ineligible for sale at checkouts in America’s most populous state. The commission also covers padded envelopes and packaging materials used for home delivery, as well as plastic films on certain grocery items.

In a Dec. 3 letter viewed by Reuters, the California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling called on California attorney general and regulator CalRecycle to crack down on what it claims is illegal labeling that undermines state efforts to fight against plastic pollution.

Deceived by the recycling symbols, Californians mistakenly throw this material into curbside recycling programs that do not accept it, the commission said. This increases the costs for recycling companies to remove waste from the waste stream and repair equipment blocked by these flexible plastics.

The complaint did not identify any retailer by name. The California Grocers Association (CGA) has said it doesn’t think the current recycling labels on reusable bags are misleading.

CGA spokesperson Nate Rose said the bags meet the certification guidelines of the law, including requirements that they must be made from at least 40% post-consumer recycled material and be durable enough to be used 125 times.

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Bryce K. Locke