A N A C T
RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- WASTE RECYCLING AND DEGRADABLE PLASTICS AND PACKAGING
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 23-18.8-3 of the General Laws in Chapter 23-18.8 entitled "Waste Recycling" is hereby repealed.
23-18.8-3. Recycled and recyclable materials logo -- Penalties for violation -- (a) The director of the department of environmental management is hereby authorized to adopt a distinctive mark or logo for the identification of materials or products which are composed of recycled materials, recyclable materials, or which are packaged in a source reduced manner.
(b) (1) The director of the department of environmental management is hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations setting standards which must be met to qualify products as composed of recycled or recyclable materials, or packaged in a source reduced manner, setting requirements to be met for display of the logo on products, setting fees for the licensing or use of the logo on products and their collection from licensees.
(2) In the case of packaging made from paperboard, display of any logo indicating recycled materials content, shall be limited to those packages composed of more than fifty percent (50%) recycled paper.
(c) Unauthorized use of, or use of the logo contrary to the regulations promulgated pursuant to this section, shall constitute a deceptive trade practice within the meaning of section 6-13.1-1, and such violations shall be punishable and actionable as provided for by chapter 13.1 of title 6.
SECTION 2. Chapter 23-18.14 of the General Laws entitled "Degradable Plastics and Packaging" is hereby repealed in its entirety.
Degradable Plastics and Packaging
23-18.14-1. Legislative findings -- The general assembly finds that "degradable" packaging is being promoted to consumers through labeling as a means of protecting our environment. However, "degradable" packaging will not extend the life of landfills, is interfering with efforts to reuse and recycle plastics, generally requires the use of more raw materials, poses a serious threat to wildlife, and will not have a significant impact on the litter problem. The general assembly further finds that the labeling of such packaging as "degradable", "biodegradable", "photodegradable", or "environmentally safe" is inaccurate and misleading to consumers, since the residue of the breakdown of such products and packaging is uncertain and since it cannot be demonstrated that the labeled material breaks down any more rapidly in a solid waste disposal facility than similar products or packaging not labeled as degradable. The general assembly further finds that because "degradable" packaging poses a threat to recycling systems, since degradable content is considered a contaminant in plastics collected for recycling, their use is of particular concern at a time when Rhode Island is investing resources into increased plastics recycling systems.
23-18.14-2. Definitions -- (a) "Biodegradable plastic" means thermoplastic synthetic polymeric material, commonly known as plastic, into which cornstarch or other additives have been incorporated into the formulation for the purposes of weakening the material in the presence of micro-organisms.
(b) "Degradable plastic" means any thermoplastic synthetic polymeric material, commonly known as plastic, which has been modified in any way for the purposes of weakening in the presence of ultraviolet radiation or microorganisms.
(c) "Director" means the director of the department of environmental management.
(d) "Photodegradable plastic" means any thermoplastic synthetic polymeric material, commonly known as plastic, into which has been incorporated light-sensitive chemical additives or copolymers for the purposes of weakening the bonds of the polymer in the presence of ultraviolet radiation.
(e) "Retail packaging" means any package supplied by the retailer for the purposes of conveying purchased goods from the premises.
23-18.14-3. Prohibited practices -- (a) No manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of retail packaging shall imprint packaging with the term "degradable", "biodegradable", "photodegradable", "environmentally safe", or any other such terms as to imply any of the above.
(b) No vendor located or doing business in the state shall sell, offer for sale, or otherwise distribute any plastic product or package classified as recyclable pursuant to the director's authority under chapter 18.8 of this title but which contains additives of a degradable, biodegradable, or photodegradable plastic which interferes with the recyclability of such product or package.
23-18.14-4. Regulations -- The director shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions of this chapter.
23-18.14-5. Enforcement -- (a) The director or his or her duly authorized agent is authorized to assess administrative penalties for violations of this chapter, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 17.6 of title 42.
(b) In addition to any administrative penalty, the director may institute a civil action in the name of the state, in a court of competent jurisdiction, for injunctive relief, to enjoin and restrain violations of this chapter.
23-18.14-6. Severability -- If any part or provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person, entity, or circumstances be judged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall be confined in its operation to the part of or provision of or application directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment has been rendered and shall not affect or impair the validity of the remainder of this law or the application thereof to other persons, entities, or circumstances.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.