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Lynn’s Legislative Lookout List

With many state legislatures back in session, I thought this would be a good time to share my “watch list” with you – the top issues that could have the most impact on the foodservice packaging industry.

Product Bans/Taxes/Fees/Etc.
As a trade association that represents many materials, this could potentially be a tricky topic for us, but frankly it isn’t. FPI does not support any legislation that limits the marketplace by implementing bans, or altering the marketplace by adding fees on products. Each foodservice package must compete in the marketplace based on its own merits of product performance and suitability, price competitiveness and, of course, impact on the environment.

2017 will, I am sure, be no different than previous years where we see introductions of bills attempting to ban a particular product because of its material makeup or presumed [lack of] end-of-life options. 

We’ve also seen a ban on one product or material can turn into a slippery slope. Carry-out bags are a perfect example: initially plastic bags were the target. A few years later, legislators started including paper in their sights. Today, it’s very rare to see a bill that doesn’t suggest banning plastic bags, placing a fee on paper ones and strongly encouraging the use of reusable bags instead. Which brings me to my next issue to watch…

Single-Use versus Reusables
This topic has been percolating for some time now, and it’s continuing to get a lot of attention. Just last week, the EPA (of all people!) hosted a webinar “Taking on Takeout Waste: New Approaches in New York City.” The amount of bad information was boggling. And have you checked out Clean Water Action’s "ReThink Disposable" campaign? It's a good thing that one of FPI's strategic focus areas for 2017 centers around reusables. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Concerns about Chemicals
Chemicals used in packaging have long been in the spotlight. However, it's starting to hit closer to home for us in the foodservice packaging industry, with growing attention on styrene and fluorochemicals. Some non-governmental groups may spin their own claims, but at the end of the day, foodservice packaging (like all food packaging) goes through rigorous testing to make certain that they meet stringent regulations, ensuring the safe delivery of foodservice items to consumers. What's troubling is when legislators or regulators attempt to restrict the use of FDA-approved packaging. And yes, we've already seen that – and will see more of it.

Extended Producer Responsibility
The threat of new or expanded extended producer responsibility programs for packaging continues to loom on the horizon. While proponents would argue that EPR programs lead to better product design, ease the financial burden of cash-strapped municipalities to recover packaging, reduce the amount of packaging that ends up as litter and probably solve world peace (said tongue in cheek), FPI doesn’t agree. We are opposed to EPR because it is neither effective nor efficient. We should instead be focusing on other strategies that really do help move the needle, such as unit-based pricing/pay as you throw initiatives, disposal bans and recycling mandates. 

For more information on legislation and regulation that may impact the foodservice packaging industry, be sure to sign up for FPI's Legislative and Regulatory Updates (available for FPI members only). Contact me for more details.

Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 2/22/2017 9:37:37 AM