Statement: Bill mandates truthful recycling labels

Media Contacts
Sander Kushen

Former Consumer Advocate, CALPIRG

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

New legislation restricts recycling symbol to only items that are truly recyclable


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California State Assembly voted Wednesday to prohibit manufacturers from using the common chasing-arrows symbol on non-recyclable materials.  If approved again in the Senate and signed into law by the governor, the bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen, would reduce consumer confusion and restrict producers from misleadingly placing recycling labels on non-recyclable products.

A 2019 Consumer Brand Association study showed that most consumers assumed that the chasing arrows symbol signaled recyclable products. Plastic manufacturers, arguably in an attempt to make their products appear less wasteful, use the chasing arrows symbol on items even when the item cannot be recycled in the state of California. In California, less than 15 percent of single-use plastic is recycled. 

In response, Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG’s state director, released the following statement:

“Many plastic manufacturers are clearly overusing the recycling symbol to make their products seem sustainable even if they’re not.  These companies are misleading consumers to buy and use plastic products, tricking them into thinking they’re avoiding landfill waste when they toss them in the blue bin. 

Consumers have the right to know if the products they are using are recyclable or not.  This transparency is critical to shifting the market towards more recyclable material.  It’s impossible for consumers to reward good actors and avoid unnecessary waste when they’re being duped by the plastic industry.

We commend Senator Allen and the California State Assembly for making sure that the plastic industry will soon start having to tell the truth on its product labels.” 

staff | TPIN

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