The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has announced the release of an interactive Guide to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Proposals designed to help stakeholders make sense of the recent bills and policy positions related to EPR for packaging.
If you work in the packaging industry or sustainability (or both), it may seem like every week in 2021 brings a new article or announcement about EPR. Activity surrounding EPR for packaging reached the highest point ever in the U.S. this year, with ten states introducing legislation and federal lawmakers re-introducing a national EPR bill. While some of that activity has cooled as many state legislatures have adjourned, there were significant shifts in the policy landscape. Maine and Oregon became the first states to pass EPR bills for packaging, and over 150 businesses and organizations signed on to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) statement calling for the implementation of EPR for packaging.
Many companies throughout the packaging value chain have recognized the need for circular packaging materials and systems. This transition to a circular economy implies a certain level of responsibility of producers to consider the end-of-life of products. Whether or not this occurs through legislation is uncertain at this point, but with the amount of activity, especially at the state level, it does seem likely that policy will play a key role. Additionally, companies, nonprofit organizations, and trade associations are putting out policy positions either supporting EPR or proposing another type of recycling system financing.
EPR and all of the ways it can be implemented is complicated, but the more stakeholders know, the more they can engage in informed conversation. This has the potential to increase the effectiveness of the solution that is implemented, whether or not that solution is EPR. The SPC wants to provide stakeholders throughout the packaging value chain with the resources necessary to understand the landscape of EPR and take part in these discussions.
To help make sense of what is out there, the SPC is launching the Guide to EPR Proposals. This is not a guide to EPR, and it does not explain in depth what EPR is or the different ways that EPR can be implemented. There are excellent resources and work that has been done in this area already. Instead, this resource provides information on the recent state and federal packaging bills as well as policy positions in support of EPR or other related types of recycling system financing.
The SPC recognized a need to collect all of this information in one place and not only identify what is out there, but also present it in a way that is understandable to those who are not deeply familiar with policy. The Guide to EPR Proposals breaks down these bills and policy positions into various elements. Elements are key aspects of EPR policy that are important in understanding what the proposal will mean in practice.
This interactive tool allows a user to explore recent proposals by elements and develop a better understanding of the landscape of proposals that have been recently introduced. Additionally, the Guide features a comparison tool. This feature can be used to compare bills in two states to see how they differ or compare the amended version of a bill to a previous version to understand how it changed. The comparison function can also be used to view how proposed legislation aligns with various policy positions.
This Guide is free for both Sustainable Packaging Coalition members and non-members. The Guide will be continuously updated as new proposals are introduced and new features are developed. You can explore the Guide to EPR Proposals at epr.sustainablepackaging.org.