On Wednesday, March 1st, the Maryland House of Delegates’ Committee on Environment and Transportation will conduct a hearing on House Bill 1349: “Compostable, Degradable, and Biodegradable Plastic Products – Labeling.” The legislation, introduced by Maryland Delegate Shane Robinson (District 39), is a result of close work between Delegate Robinson and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). ILSR, and a number of allies, will be testifying on the merits of the bill in front of the House Committee.
This legislation seeks to ensure that any “plastic product labeled as biodegradable, degradable, or decomposable…meets certain standards” that makes that labeling true. The legislation, alongside establishing certain standards for plastics labeled as compostable, would establish penalties for knowing violations of this legislation. The bill’s synopsis reads:
“Prohibiting a person from selling a specified plastic product that is labeled as biodegradable, degradable, or decomposable on or after October 1, 2018, subject to a specified exception; prohibiting a person from selling a specified plastic product labeled as compostable, marine degradable, or home compostable on or after October 1, 2018, unless the plastic product meets specified standards; establishing specified penalties; providing for the disposition of specified penalties collected under the Act; etc.”
The legislation would go into effect on October 1st, 2017.
The bill is modeled off of the US Composting Council‘s “Model Compostable Labeling Legislation,” which is based off of successful labeling legislation in California. One of the largest issues in compostable plastics today is a phenomenon considered “greenwashing;” a practice manufacturers use to “cash-in” on the momentum around compostable plastics even when the plastics being manufactured do not meet recognized compostability standards. When these plastic products reach the compost pile, they cause contamination and unnecessarily expensive disposal and sorting costs.
Over the next two months, ILSR will monitor HB 1349’s progression through Maryland’s House of Delegates.