EPR Policies Now Attracting Federal Attention

Date: April 5, 2024

Source: News Room

Several different policy strategies aimed at increasing recycling rates have recently garnered federal attention, including extended producer responsibility (EPR) and container deposits. The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing on March 6, where industry representatives from various sectors of the plastic supply chain, as well as an environmental NGO, expressed their support for considering federal EPR for packaging. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, chairman of the committee, stated that the hearing's objective was to examine how the federal government could support EPR for packaging initiatives as more states adopt such laws. He expressed hope that the discussions would shed light on the activities occurring in states and define the appropriate role of the federal government in this context.

Concurrently, a group of environmental organizations and packaging stakeholders visited Washington to lobby for a bipartisan national bottle bill, an effort organized by the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC). NSAC highlighted the challenge faced by companies in obtaining sufficient recycled materials to meet their recycled content targets, despite the abundance of materials available if properly collected. They argued that a national recycling refund could harmonize programs across states, simplifying compliance for producers selling nationally. The lobbying effort, which included major buyers of recycled materials and recycling technology firms, aimed to garner bipartisan support for a national container deposit program by emphasizing the common ground among stakeholders with differing perspectives on the recycling system. This confluence of major stakeholders alongside prominent federal lawmakers marks a turning point in the push for EPR policy.

In summary, the recent federal attention to recycling policy strategies, including EPR and container deposits, reflects a growing consensus on the need for a coordinated approach to improve recycling rates. The discussions and lobbying efforts highlight the potential benefits of such policies, including increased availability of recycled materials and harmonization of recycling programs across states. However, the diversity of opinions and approaches suggests that achieving consensus on the best path forward may require careful consideration of the various stakeholders' needs and the role of federal and state governments in supporting these initiatives. Despite these differences in opinion, these conversations elevating from the state and local levels to federal certainly drives hope that EPR policies will expand their reach. With proper implementation, a federal EPR policy would have a massive impact on nationwide demand for post-consumer recyclables and increase recycling plastic recycling rates significantly. It will be interesting to watch as these discussions continue, and policy begins to form.

Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin