January 14, 2020

Sustainable packaging legislation coming in 2020


Looking at the year ahead and potential 2020 environmental legislation aimed at the packaging industry

Sustainable packaging legislation coming in 2020 – A new decade begins and with it comes a renewed approach to environmental legislation and a reinvigorated debate over the sustainability of the packaging industry.

2019 was a milestone year for laws aimed at improving the environmental impact of packaging. New York City, for example, started the year off by enacting a ban on polystyrene foam packaging products. And 2020 has all the indicators of another year of serious debate over sustainable packaging legislation.


Environmental legislation going into effect this year

2020 kicked off with Oregon enforcing a statewide ban on single-use checkout bags (HB 2509) on January 1st, 2020. The state of New York will follow them with the enforcement of their own plastic bag ban on March 1st, 2020.

In addition, Vermont passed a comprehensive ban on single-use plastics and foam packaging products last year. Starting July 2020, the state will prohibit expanded polystyrene food packaging containers as well as single-use plastic bags, cups, and stirrers. The bill had “overwhelming bipartisan support” with very little opposition, leading to a quick signature from Governor Phil Scott.

While many states have passed bans on single-use plastic bags, Vermont’s bill marks a notable step forward as it included polystyrene foam packaging with single-use bags and cups for the first time. More and more, states look to achieve greater sustainability by passing comprehensive bans that reach all problematic plastic packaging products instead of attacking polystyrene packaging separately.


Sustainable packaging legislation coming in 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a proposal to ban single-use Styrofoam™ packaging statewide during his State of the State address this past December. The proposed ban targets the use of expanded polystyrene packaging materials, including food containers and loose-fill EPS packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts.

Additionally, it grants authority to the State Department of Environmental Conservation to review and even ban other packaging materials found to be damaging to the environment. The bill builds off of the city of New York’s ban on polystyrene foam food containers as well as a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that will go into effect March of 2020.

Governor Cuomo proposes sustainable packaging legislation

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)


“Styrofoam is one of the most common pollutants and a public health hazard that impacts humans and the environment alike,” declares Governor Cuomo. He has made it a core part of his legislative agenda to reduce waste and establish forward-thinking programs to improve New York’s impact on the environment.


California at the forefront of the debate

California’s State Legislature continues to drive the national conversation when it comes to environmental laws and regulations. Last year California legislators debated Assembly Bill 1080 and its partner, Senate Bill 54, which proposed aggressive new standards for recycling, specifically targeting single-use packaging.

The legislation would effectively phase out all unsustainable, single-use packaging products by 2030. Although the bill never came to a vote, it opened the door for far-reaching environmental policies that have the potential to have a significant impact on the packaging industry.


The plan for 2020

The environmental impact of packaging remains a key topic among policymakers and citizens in the Golden State. This past November, Michael Sangiacomo, CEO of Recology, submitted an extensive environmental initiative called the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act of 2020

The ballot measure aims at eliminating waste from product packaging, with a goal of an 80% reduction from 2020 to 2030. It mandates that packaging is either reusable, compostable, or recyclable. The law also prohibits both “unnecessary” packaging as well as virgin plastic material and requires that producers use recycled content in their packaging. The law also gives regulators the power to levy a Plastic Pollution Reduction Fee of up to one cent ($0.01) per plastic product on producers. 

Sangiacomo proposes sustainable packaging legislation

Michael Sangiacomo, CEO of Recology


 The initiative will appear as a state statute on the 2020 ballot if it receives 623,212 signatures, or 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Sangiacomo’s proposal comes with a pledge of $1 million to galvanize citizen support.


Sustainable packaging is future-proof

The trend towards sustainability gains strength in local and state governments, with new legislation passed every year. The packaging industry is a top priority for lawmakers and will unquestionably feel impacts from policies this coming year. Companies will have to adjust their packaging methods now if they hope to keep up with changing legislation and customer expectations. 

EPE USA has stood at the forefront of the sustainable packaging landscape for decades. We have established proven solutions across a variety of industries, replacing unsustainable materials with environmentally sound designs and processes. 

EPE’s solutions replace traditional foams with stronger materials that allow for repeatable impact and are 100% recyclable and reusable – dramatically improving both sustainability and product protection. Our engineers create optimized designs that reduce material usage, eliminate waste, and minimize a package’s impact on the environment. EPE implements truly future-proof designs, which feature optimized designs and eco-friendly materials to ensure maximum sustainability.

Make your packaging future-proof today. Talk to one of our experts about how EPE can redesign your packaging. 

EPE is ISTA-Certified and a proud member of the Amazon Packaging Supplier and Support (APASS) network. 



Photo from WAMC.org

Photo from USFCA.edu