Since 2003, PPI has promoted Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), manufacturer take-back initiatives and green design as policy approaches to mitigate the environmental and social impacts of consumer products and packaging. We develop policies and educational materials, and network key stakeholders to assist public interest advocates, government officials, leading companies and citizens to advocate for producer responsibility initiatives.
We began with an original analysis of the history of solid waste management that showed how the provision of “free” waste disposal services by local governments over the past century has enabled manufacturers to design toxic and throwaway products and packaging. This work was well received by local government officials and formed the basis of our successful efforts to organize local governments through independent Product Stewardship Councils to work for state EPR legislation.
Starting in 2005, PPI's work led to the formation of councils in California, Texas, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. PPI has also devoted significant resources to educating state legislators and organizing public-interest organizations.
By organizing local governments, public-interest NGOs, legislators, and citizens to work for producer responsibility policies, PPI's work has helped launch a system-wide shift that moves the life-cycle responsibility for products away from the public and onto the parties who design, market and profit from their sale. Our efforts have moved EPR into a high legislative phase in the United States. Today, more than 80 producer responsibility laws covering ten product categories have been passed in 33 states; EPR is now being considered for high-volume products like carpet and packaging. In California, EPR was proposed by the Governor’s Ocean Protection Council as the first policy tool for reducing the flow of plastics washing into the ocean, and Maine has adopted an EPR framework law to systematically expand and create new product stewardship initiatives.
Looking ahead, we will continue to concentrate our resources in areas that will have the most impact on reaching a tipping point that consolidates EPR as a dominant U.S. policy.
Why the Compass? The Product Policy Institute advocates that the proper role of government is to set and enforce environmental performance standards in the public interest (True North), rather than providing detailed solutions (Maps). Governments should base standards for sustainable industry performance on principles that include producer responsibility, polluter pays and the precautionary principle.