Minimum Post-Consumer Recycled Content Legislation

Sustainable packaging is no longer something that’s nice to have—it’s a business imperative. Legislators are setting standards for post-consumer recycled (PCR) content and taking further steps to require brands to adopt more sustainable packaging. This means that your brand will be impacted if you sell a product in any jurisdiction that has a specific PCR content requirement. 

Post-consumer recycled content is material that has been reconstituted from non-virgin sources (e.g., recycled plastics or glass) and can be repurposed to create products for consumer use. PCR laws aim to reduce the use of virgin materials by requiring producers to include a mandated percentage of PCR in their plastic and/or glass products. By requiring PCR, these laws also serve to ensure ongoing demand for recycled materials (and a steady stream of business for the recycling companies that do this work). 

In the US, five states so far have enacted laws that require containers to include a percentage of PCR (often called Minimum Recycled Content laws)—and more are considering following their lead. Brands that fail to meet mandated PCR levels in these states will face penalties, often fees for lack of adequate recycled content or the imposition of a corrective action plan.

We’ve developed this short reference guide to highlight some takeaways from new and emerging US legislation and to identify key packaging considerations for incorporating PCR into your brand’s sustainable packaging strategy. 

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