Merkley working on bill to change recycling labels

By Jordan Wolman | 06/25/2024 06:26 AM EDT

An industry group is backing national recycling reform — as long as it preempts California.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is working on legislation to set national product labeling standards. Francis Chung/POLITICO

A federal effort to regulate recycling labels on consumer packaging could end up preempting California’s first-in-the-nation law to crack down on misleading uses of the “chasing arrows” symbol if the packaging industry gets its way.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and industry and environmental groups are working on draft legislation to create federal standards for when beverage containers, food service products and packaging can don a compostable, recyclable or reusable label — and packaging producers are trying to preempt a similar California law, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.

The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment — which counts Amazon, Exxon, 3M and the American Chemistry Council among its members — wrote to Merkley’s office last week to provide feedback on the draft bill.


The group said it would support national standards that a product must meet to bear the iconic “chasing arrows” symbol but also said that any legislation should “expressly preempt” California’s 2021 law and other state laws as legislatures around the country weigh similar measures.