Mandatory Recycled Content Laws for Packaging

Updated September 2023

Mandatory minimum recycled content policy is a proven market development strategy that has been employed at the state level for more than 30 years.  In the early 1990s, nine states established minimum recycled content requirements for newsprint, and five states enacted such policies for non-newsprint items. Notably, and also in the 1990s, California enacted minimum recycled content laws for fiberglass, glass containers, plastic containers and plastic trash bags, while Oregon set standards for glass containers.  These laws played an important role in supporting the expansion of recycling in the US in that decade by stabilizing markets for materials collected in the growing number of curbside recycling programs. 
In the past three years, as communities have struggled with recycled commodity market volatility resulting from China’s National Sword policy, several states have returned their focus to this proven recycling market driver. This fact sheet focuses on state mandatory recycled content laws for packaging, carryout bags, and trash bags.


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