Introduction EPR for packaging in the USA?
More and more countries worldwide are introducing principles of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in their own country. The Recycling Partnership, an initiative aimed at supporting community recycling efforts, has set out plans for a recycling support mechanism to overhaul the American recycling sector.
The Recycling Partnership invites the public sector to provide critical input and perspective into its policy paper ‘Accelerating Recycling - Policy to unlock supply for the Circular Economy'. The paper is endorsed by the Recycling Partnership’s ‘Circular Economy Accelerator’ initiative which aims to develop uniquely American policy solutions for the future of American recycling and is backed by major industry stakeholders, as for instance Coca Cola.
Watershed moment for packaging EPR in the USA
As such, the proposal could signal a watershed moment for packaging EPR in the US, as it is the first time that the industry broadly supports an EPR mechanism to manage household packaging waste.
The paper notes that currently local governments assume nearly full responsibility for this waste to the tune of over USD 4 billion per year. Around 20,000 local governments must make difficult decisions about what and how to recycle, which results ‘in enormous inconsistencies and inefficiencies across the country’. In addition, the recycling infrastructure (including carts, bins and trucks) and materials recovery facilities suffer ‘from years of underinvestment’ and must be rebuild.
Brands and packaging producers would provide the financing for above mentioned infrastructure by paying a fee. This fee would apply to all packaging materials (plastic, metal, glass,…) and be based 'on the amount of sold-at-retail (including e-commerce). Funds would be used for collection and processing infrastructure and consumer education and outreach programs. All fund recipients would be required to adopt best management practices and regularly report specified metrics.
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Source: The Recycling Partnership