Producer Responsibility for Packaging
Packaging comprises 30% of the U.S. solid waste stream (US EPA 2011), greater than any other category, and most of the materials are recyclable. Packaging materials are made from natural resources – trees, minerals, natural gas and oil – that require tremendous amounts of energy to produce from virgin feedstock. Municipal recycling has been unable to stem the tide of packaging waste ... with the excpetion of the beverage industry, which is responsbile for recycling their containers in "bottle-bill" states, manufacturers are free to package their product any way they see fit without the burden of collecting and recycling their packaging into new products.
How Beverage Industry Used Curbside to Promote Throw-aways at Taxpayer Expense
- The American Beverage Industry and the Development of Curbside Recycling Programs, 1950–2000, Bartow J. Elmore (2013)
Public Interest Groups Respond to Grocery Manufacturers (GMA)
- PPI and PSI reponse to Grocery Manufacuters report on EPR for packaging (Dec. 2012)
- Grocery Manufacturers Association - SAIC Report (Sept 2012)
- AMERIPEN Draft Anti-EPR Policy (October 2012)
Packaging Issue Front and Center for Businesses
Shareholders of two major corporations, Proctor & Gamble and General Mills, are asking those companies to support EPR programs for packaging.
Canada Forging Ahead On Packaging
Two very different approaches to packaging EPR are being tested in Canada. This country is home to North America’s most advanced programs for “Industry Product Stewardship” – programs that are entirely industry-run and do not rely on municipal collection. Canada is also home to North America’s most comprehensive curbside recycling program -- Ontario’s “Blue Box” program -- which receives 50% of its funding from producers to collect packaging along with newspapers and other printed materials. What do these two different approaches have to teach us about EPR for packaging?
British Columbia adopted North America’s first deposit/refund program for beverage containers in 1970, and has since been followed by 7 other Canadian provinces. In the 1990s, BC and other provinces expanded their beverage container deposit programs, and in the process shifted from a primarily “return-to-retail” system to a system that uses different return facilities including privately operated return centers. Read what the emerging “Product Stewardship” industry says about the new recycling system that does not rely on municipal collection:
- Rural EPR concerns_Regional District Central Kootenay June 18, 2013
- British Columbia Recycling Regulation – Redline showing Packaging-Printed Paper Addition May 19, 2011.
- Differences between product stewardship and municipal collection from Encorp 2008 annual report.
- BC Recycler’s Handbook 2010 Consumer guide to nine full EPR programs.
- British Columbia Trip Report March 2011 Bill Sheehan
The Waste Diversion Act (2002) required producers to fund 50% of the net costs of municipal “Blue Box” recycling programs. That program is now up for review. Read the government’s discussion paper and comments from others on the Ontario approach:
- From Waste to Worth: The Role of Waste Diversion in the Green Economy (October 2009)
Ontario Environment Ministry’s proposal for revising the Waste Diversion Act
- The Way Forward for Product Packaging EPR, Product Policy Institute (July 2010)
- Evolution of the Ontario Blue Box Program: From Government Responsibility to Full EPR? PPI discussion paper (revised July 2010)
- Detailed Calculation Tables for Preliminary 2010 Blue Box Stewards’ Fees Stewardship Ontario, 2008 data for 2010 fees (August 2009)
- Talk by John Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of the Environment, at the Waste Diversion Ontario Annual General Meeting (April 27, 2010)
Gerretsen says that the Blue Box program has been a failure in decreasing waste diversion and that full, individual producer responsibility is needed.
- Memo to US bottle bill states: Hang on to your drawers PPSReview (May 2010)
Advice to Americans who are being enticed to give up high performing EPR (deposit) programs for lower performing curbside programs and a model of “EPR” that Ontario is now rejecting.
- The Blue Box Conspiracy, by Guy Crittenden, Urban Renaissance Institute, 1997
- Waste Blues: Curbside Recycling Reassessed, by David Menzies, The Financial Post Magazine, 1997.
EPR is now national policy in Canada, with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment working together to harmonize programs across the country. Read about the CCME work on packaging:
- Canada-Wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment 2009.
- Canada-Wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment 2009.
EPR & Packaging Issues
Transition Strategies for Local Governments
If we are moving from traditional end-of-pipe municipal responsibility for waste to EPR, how will we manage the transition? Work is underway in Canada to define the issue and suggest solutions:
- Implications of Using Local Government Facilities & Staff to Deliver Stewardship Programs by Alan Stanley, Director of Environmental Services for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, British Columbia, June 2010.
- Transitioning to Full EPR: A Cooperative Strategy DRAFT. Laurie Gallant for BCPSC, March 2007.
- “What happens when industry takes over?” – PPSReview (May 2009)
- Comments on Proposed Changes to the Ontario Waste Diversion Act Association of Municipalities of Ontario, February 2010.
- Extended Producer Responsibility, Paper Companies and Campaigns. PowerPoint by Bill Sheehan (Sept 2010)
- A Zero Waste Vision for Paper GRRN, Nov 2002