New Jersey to Require PCR Content in Plastic and Glass Packaging

PCR Content

Following similar packaging legislation in California and Washington State, New Jersey recently enacted a law mandating post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in plastic and glass packaging. Taking effect in 2024, the regulation requires single-use plastic beverage bottles sold in the state contain, on average, at least 15% PCR content.

In 2027 and every three years thereafter, the percentage of PCR content in beverage containers will increase 5% until reaching a maximum 50%. Hot-filled plastic beverage bottles will be capped at 30% PCR content.

Beginning in 2024, all other rigid plastic containers must contain, on average, 10% PCR content. In 2027 and every three years thereafter, the percentage of PCR content will increase 10% until reaching a maximum 50% in 2036.

Packages that are exempt from the PCR content requirements include:

  • Milk products
  • Plant-based products with names such as “milk”
  • Medical foods
  • Foods for special dietary use
  • Infant formula
  • Refillable containers

Other rigid plastic food packaging is exempt for five years.

The law also applies to glass packaging. Beginning in 2024, all glass containers sold in the state are required to contain, on average, at least 35% post-consumer recycled content. However, if a manufacturer certifies that its PCR content contains at least 50% mixed-color cullet, then the manufacturer’s glass containers will only be required to contain, on average, 25% PCR content.

Polystyrene loose-fill packaging — commonly known as packing peanuts — will be banned in 2024.

The legislation allows the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to review and update the recycled-content ratios in the future based on several factors, including changes in market conditions, recycling rates, the availability of recycled material, the capacity of recycling or processing infrastructure, and progress made by manufacturers.

Berlin Packaging can help our customers navigate the evolving sustainability landscape by determining their applicability and exposure to new packaging laws, assisting with PCR sourcing and integration into their packaging portfolio, calculating life cycle emissions, proposing reuse/refill packaging options, providing sustainability reporting and communications, and more.

For more information on state regulations on PCR content, read related articles on States Mandate PCR Content in Plastic Containers and California 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.

By: Robert Swientek
Date: January 21, 2022

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