California Plastic Beverage Containers
By: Berlin Packaging Specialist
Date: January 12, 2022
Beginning January 1, 2022, most plastic beverage bottles sold in California will be required by law to contain at least 15% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content. The PCR percentage in these plastic bottles will rise to 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. Beverage manufacturers are exempt from the law if they pay $15,000 or less in processing fees annually in California. Beverage manufacturers that fail to comply with the minimum PCR content requirements are subject to annual administrative penalties beginning January 2023 (Source: CalRecycle).
- Beer and other malt beverages
- Wine coolers
- Carbonated fruit drinks, water, or soft drinks
- Non-carbonated fruit drinks, water, or soft drinks
- Coffee and tea beverages
- 100% fruit juice of less than 46 oz
- Vegetable juice of less than 16 oz
AB 793 Requirements
AB 793 requirements apply only to plastic beverage containers. All beverage containers which are subject to the California deposit system (CRV) should contain average minimum levels of PCR as follows:
- 15% by January 1, 2022
- 25% by January 1, 2025
- 50% by January 1, 2030
Beverage manufacturers are exempt from AB 793 if they pay $15,000 or less in processing fees annually. CalRecycle will determine if a beverage manufacturer meets the requirements of PRC §14575(g)(3)(A) and is exempt (Source: CalRecycle).
January 1, 2022: Beverage bottles are required to contain at least 15% post-consumer recycled plastic.
January 1, 2023: Beverage manufacturers that do not meet the minimum content requirements are subject to an annual administrative penalty.
March 1, 2024: Administrative penalties will be collected.
January 1, 2025: Beverage manufacturers are required to utilize at least 25% post-consumer recycled plastic.
January 1, 2030: Beverage manufacturers are required to utilize at least 50% post-consumer recycled plastic.
(Source: California Legislative Information)
Berlin Packaging can help our customers navigate the evolving sustainability landscape and assist with PCR sourcing and integration. To learn more about our sustainable packaging capabilities, contact your Packaging Consultant or call 1.800.2.BERLIN.
Enforcement & Penalties
Penalties will be calculated at a rate of $0.20 per pound based on the shortfall of recycled content used compared to the minimum content requirement.
Beverage manufacturers may pay penalties in quarterly installments or arrange an alternative payment schedule. Beverage manufacturers who fail to meet the minimum content standard may submit a corrective action plan detailing the reasons they failed or will fail to meet the minimum recycled content standard and how they plan to meet the standard in the future. The penalties assessed on the beverage manufacturer may be reduced if CalRecycle approves the corrective action plan.
(Source: California Legislative Information)
- Educate: ensure customers are aware of the mandate.
- Key Point: 15% PCR by CRV Registered Weight starting 1/1/2022 does not require 15% per bottle.
- Prioritize: scale down and focus on specific SKUs and work with supply chain.
- Target high volume / high resin content bottles – target 25% min PCR content is required to hit overall PCR weight targets with limited bottle proliferation (e.g., high volume, large bottles).
- Identify priority bottles.
- Vet out bottle conversion complexity.
- Assess supply chains.
- PCR sourcing and availability – single pellet vs. mix/blend
- Processing and conversion
Frequently Asked Questions
* FAQs displayed here are courtesy of CalRecycle. For the most current questions and answers please click here.
When is the minimum content report due?
The report is due March 1 each year for the previous calendar year. The PRC §14549.3 requirement for beverage manufacturers to annually report virgin plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic usage has not changed. AB 793 amends the law to require reporting by pounds and resin type. The 15% minimum content standard is effective on January 1, 2022. This reporting period will be reflected on the 2023 calendar year report.
Where can I find the minimum content report form?
CalRecycle provides a suggested form as the department believes that it complies with the requirements of PRC §14549.3.
Are beverage manufacturers who meet the requirements of PRC Section 14575(g)(3)(A) required to complete the minimum content report?
Yes, they are required to report on March 1 of every year but do not have to meet the minimum content requirement.
What is meant by "a beverage"? To whom do the minimum recycled content requirements apply? Manufacturers, brands, distributors, others? Do the requirements speak to both sales in the state as well as products manufactured in the state?
A beverage is defined in PRC §14504. A beverage manufacturer is defined in PRC §14506 as any person who bottles, cans, or otherwise fills beverage containers, or imports filled beverage containers for sale to distributors, dealers, or consumers. If you are uncertain if you meet the definition of a beverage manufacturer or if your beverage is subject to CRV, please contact our Registration Unit via phone at (916) 323-1835 or via email email@example.com.
Can post-industrial recycled material be used instead of PCR material?
PRC §14547 requires a post-consumer recycled plastic minimum content standard.
Does the average PCR requirement target apply to bottles manufactured in California, filled in California, or bottles sold at points of sale in California regardless of where they are made and filled?
The plastic minimum content reporting requirements apply to all plastic beverage containers sold in California subject to the California Redemption Value (CRV). PRC §14506 defines “beverage manufacturer” as any person who bottles, cans, or otherwise fills beverage containers, or imports filled beverage containers for sale to distributors, dealers, or consumers. If you do not know if you are a beverage manufacturer or whether your plastic beverage containers are subject to CRV, please contact the Division of Recycling Registration Unit at (916) 323-1835 or email reg.crvlabeling@ calrecycle.ca.gov.
How long must the beverage manufacturer keep PCR documentation?
Per regulation (CCR §2085(b)), beverage manufacturers are required to retain documents for at least five years.
Does the average content requirement mean that a company can plan on higher PCR content for certain types of containers but less, or even zero, in the case of others, and still comply if the overall PCR content across its sales averages 15% PCR content?
The total number of plastic beverage containers, on average, must contain no less than the minimum content standard of post-consumer recycled plastic per year, based on the aggregate.
If my post-consumer minimum content is slightly below the minimum content requirement, could this be rounded up?
No. PRC §14547 establishes a standard for post-consumer recycled minimum content in plastic beverage containers.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney. It is the customer’s responsibility to determine whether its filled product is subject to any applicable government regulations and to ensure compliance with such regulations.