HB375/SB284 - Recycling, biodegradable plastic containers to meet standards for compostable products and be clearly labeled to prevent contamination of recyclable plastic containers

HB375 Sponsor(s): Representatives Boothe and B. Moore
SB284 Sponsor(s): Senator Holley

Summary/Synopsis:  These bills require that plastic containers only be labeled “biodegradable” if they meet some federal standards. Additionally, they must be labeled “Not Recyclable, Do Not Recycle”.

League Action and Justification: Monitor.

LWVUS does support “reduce, reuse, and recycle” – and by requiring honest labeling of plastics that will break down over time, these league goals could be achieved. There is no specific League policy about biodegradable or compostable plastics. In fact, there is a lot of controversy (as well as a lack of technology or even long-term evaluation of the existing technology) about producing and disposing of biodegradable or compostable plastics. Some studies suggest that the use of corn in its production (and most such plastic is made of corn) could significantly reduce the food supply; others suggest that the methane and/or CO2 produced by this plastic in landfills will add significantly to the greenhouse effect; still others posit that the methane/CO2 production is a “wash”. The technology involved is very new and constantly changing.

Honest labeling (the Federal Trade Commission has issued the guidelines the bill requires) is important, as is the development of products that do not degrade the environment. Although these bills look like environmental bills, their potential for unintended consequences is high. They do not, for example, address the practical aspects of environmental protection or even of managing the waste stream. How many landfills are planning a compostable section for garbage that could safely become humus? And what happens to the biodegradable plastic cutlery which cannot be recycled and is placed in a landfill in a non-biodegradable plastic garbage bag? Who would see that it is disposed of more appropriately?

Bill Progress in Legislature:


01/30/2014: First Reading and referred to the
02/06/2014: 2nd Reading and placed on calendar; pending 3rd Reading and Favorable from C&SB

02/27/2014: 3rd Reading Indefinitely Postpones; Booth motion to Substitute SB284 for HB375 adopted by Voice Vote; Booth motion to Indefinitely Postpone Adopted by Voice Vote.


01/28/2014: First Reading and referred to the
02/06/2014: 2nd Read and place on the calendar; pending 3rd Reading and Favorable from E&NR

02/13/2014: 3rd Reading Carried Over to the Call of the Chair based on Holley motion and Voice Vote; Further Consideration

02/18/2014: 3rd Reading Passed; Motion to Read a 3rd Time and Pass Adopted by Roll Call (23-2-1); Pittman Motion to Reconsider Lost by Voice Vote


Read for the 1st Time and referred to the
02/26/2014: Read for the 2nd time and placed on the calendar

02/27/2014: 3rd Reading Passed; Motion to Read a 3rd Time and Pass adopted by Roll Call Vote (98-0-0); Signature Requested


Passed Second House; Enrolled. Assigned Act No. 2014-135.