March 7, 2013
Over the last four months, members of the CRADLE2 Coalition have developed a draft EPR Packaging Platform for Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Packaging. This document has been through one comment period, and we have decided to open it for an additional comment period to close on April 30th.
The purpose of the document is to identify and clarify public interest principles that should be included in EPR packaging legislation and implementation. The target audiences are policy makers and stakeholders engaged in EPR policy debates.
If you wish to comment, please download a copy of the document and send edits in track changes to Matt Prindiville – matt(at)productpolicy.org. You can also contact Matt at 207-902-0054 if you have any questions. Once we receive the latest round of edits, the CRADLE2 Packaging Committee will meet and determine which suggestions to include in the final document. We are planning to release the platform in May 2013. Download Draft
The Producer Responsibility policy approach puts accountability for packaging waste onto the companies that design and use packaging. Producers are required to finance the collection of their packaging materials, and ensure that they are reused or recycled. When implemented properly, producer responsibility can substantially increase recycling rates, incentivize producers to reduce the amount of packaging they use, reduce energy use, and reclaim billions of dollars of embedded value being buried in landfills or burned in waste incinerators. It is a cornerstone policy among a suite of policy tools to drive the more sustainable use of resources and reduction of toxic materials in commerce.
However, in order to achieve these results, policy drivers must be in place to protect the public interest and advance environmental goals. We, the undersigned, call for the development of state-level producer-responsibility legislation for packaging. Effective policies will include the following:
- Establish producer responsibility as the primary approach for managing each type of discarded packaging. Governments adopt a comprehensive producer responsibility policy for all types of packaging, ensuring that producers are responsible for collecting and reusing or recycling their packaging. Responsibility for packaging waste is shifted from municipalities to producers, who are legally required to ensure that consumers have reuse and recycling options for packaging materials. Packaging is sometimes lumped with printed paper, but the consumer packaged goods industry is unrelated to the publishing industry. Printed paper should be subject to its own requirements.
- Drive source reduction and phase out the use of non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging. Policies should expose the true cost of non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging. Economic policies and fee structure should drive source reduction of packaging materials and encourage phasing out the use of non-reusable and non-recyclable packaging.
- Prohibit incineration of packaging materials. The primary public-interest goal of producer responsibility is to encourage better packaging design, and the reuse and recycling of packaging materials. Waste incineration is not reduction, reuse or recycling. Producer responsibility-packaging legislation should not be constructed to support incineration, or the continued placement of materials in the market that have no other value except to be incinerated. It should also prohibit any policies that prioritize or allow incineration over recycling or any other types of disposal.
- Set high environmental standards and let innovation happen. Government sets performance targets and environmental and social standards in the public interest, and producers – with their consultants and service providers -create solutions for meeting them. Government provides producers with flexibility to determine the most cost-effective means of meeting these combined goals. Stewardship programs foster competition among producers to stimulate innovation and minimize environmental impacts during all stages of the product lifecycle, from product design to end-of-life management.
- Set and enforce reuse and recycling targets by material type, not in aggregate. Require that all producers of packaging assure that 80% of their packaging gets reused or recycled by 2020. Each packaging type should achieve continued environmental performance improvements. Packaging materials that are recycled at high rates should not offset packaging that is more difficult to collect and utilize. To ensure that material-specific targets can be measured, legislation should require an auditable, transparent process for determining baselines and whether the producers achieve performance targets.
- Require accountability and transparency, and ensure the public’s right to know. Producers are accountable to both government and consumers for their stewardship programs’ outcomes. Government provides oversight and enforcement of performance targets and standards, and ensures a level playing field for brand owners, manufacturers, service providers and all other participants in the system. Industry stewardship programs are developed by producers and require input from all stakeholders. The boards of industry stewardship organizations must include a diversity of stakeholders including representatives from public interest organizations. Government and industry track what percentages of packaging sold each year are collected and reused or recycled. In order to ensure results and effective programs, penalties should be assessed to producers that don’t meet performance targets and standards, in addition to those that don’t participate in programs.
- Provide convenient, no-charge options for consumers to reuse or recycle packaging. Producers ensure that all consumers have convenient access to collection opportunities without charge when packaging is reused or recycled.
- Include packaging from multi-family, public space, events, restaurants, and office and institutional settings, not just single-family households. This will greatly simplify the setting of targets and collection of materials and prevent the arbitrary delineation of packaging generated by households, public spaces and businesses.
- Ensure clean streams of materials and require recovered packaging to be put to its highest and best use. Performance targets for stewardship programs are guided by the Zero Waste hierarchy of reduce and reuse first, then recycle or compost, to maximize environmental and social benefits. State policies create incentives so that discarded packaging is put to high-value applications and disincentives for incineration and landfilling are applied. Policies should ensure that collection and processing systems produce clean streams of materials – thus preserving their inherent value –which can be readily used by American manufacturing facilities.
- Build on high performing reuse and recycling infrastructure. The transition to producer responsibility for packaging should be toward a more sustainable infrastructure, not away from economically sound reuse and recycling infrastructure that already exists. Producer responsibility is one tool in financing and building a sustainable, community-based, high performing collection, reuse and recycling infrastructure that benefits the environment and local economies. Strong credits and incentives should be given to producers for working with existing, high performing reuse and recycling systems. Furthermore, the entrance of new enterprises should not be impeded.
- Grow American jobs and promote local economic development. Producer responsibility policies should foster local, diversified economic development and job creation. Legislation includes provisions that require brand owners to work with economic development organizations to develop state and local reuse and recycling industries. Incentives should be given to promote the domestic recovery of packaging for remanufacturing. Producer responsibility legislation should require an economic impact assessment, which identifies how current reuse and recycling operations and infrastructure will be impacted by the implementation of a producer responsibility initiative. This assures that policy makers can promote the improvement of the local economy as a key step in implementation.
- Adopt government procurement standards and incentives related to source reduction of packaging materials, minimum reused or recycled content requirements for new products, and company support for producer responsibility. Government procurement policies purchase environmentally preferable products and packaging to support source reduction of packaging, and market development for products and packaging made with reused or recycled materials. Preference is given to products whose companies support taking responsibility for packaging waste and disclose information related to minimum reused or recycled content requirements and other sustainability metrics.
- Fund programs based on allocation of actual costs incurred in collecting, reusing and recycling product packaging. Producers should pay the full cost of all their end of life packaging in the waste stream as this stimulates better design for the environment, effective reuse options, less material use, and increased recyclability through better materials choice. Producers are free to set up their own system to handle their branded packaging or work through industry stewardship organizations.
- New producer responsibility packaging laws are not to be used to replace or undermine container-deposit laws. Container-deposit laws (bottle bills) are currently among our nation’s most successful recycling initiatives, with average beverage-container recycling rates of around 80% in the ten states that have them – although much more can be done with reuse (refillable containers). In eight of the ten U.S. bottle bill states, beverage producers are responsible for recycling their own bottles and cans, making them true producer responsibility laws. As evidenced by European and Canadian producer-led packaging systems, container-deposits can be integrated and used as a policy tool to achieve high-performing results in a producer-led recycling system.
- Any producer organization convened for the purpose of discharging producers’ responsibilities must adhere to federal and state anti-trust laws. An EPR program for packing needs to be structured to support multiple Producer Responsibility Organizations (PRO) as well as individual responsibility. Competitive PROs typically result in more cost effective programs, provide more compliance options for producers and create more opportunities for service providers. Policy provisions that do not inhibit individual producer programs to fulfill responsibilities are also necessary to support innovation in collection, reuse and recycling strategies as well as incentivize the true integration of end of life management into business models.
To become a CRADLE2 Partner or learn more about the coalition, please click here.
The Senate Commission to Study Producer Responsibility Models for Packaging and Printed Paper held its third and fourth meetings in January. Jamie Rhodes, Executive Director of Clean Water Action Rhode Island and CRADLE2 Steering Committee member, sits on the Commission. The Commission has heard from local governments, waste haulers, public interest groups and businesses in support, opposed and neutral to EPR. Members will be deliberating over the next month and will release a report with recommendations for how to move forward on packaging recycling in Rhode Island. Representative Donna Walsh, who is working on EPR issues in Rhode Island has also introduced a marine debris reduction bill, which focuses on EPR as a core solution. See Rep. Walsh’s and Jamie’s Op-Ed in today’s Providence Journal. If you have questions or comments, Jamie can be reached at email@example.com.
The CRADLE² coalition is a national alliance of public interest organizations working to make products and packaging more sustainable. CRADLE2 represents organizations and citizens across the nation united by our common concern about the squandering of our natural resources, the impacts of waste on climate change, and the loss of jobs from wasting valuable, recyclable materials in landfills and incinerators. We are also concerned about the human and environmental health impacts of toxic chemicals used in everyday products, and the disproportionate impact on low-income communities from the improper management of these materials.
We aim to transform our wasteful U.S. economy where consumer products and packaging – and the natural resources they represent – are designed to be thrown away. Instead, we envision an economy where manufacturers design their products to use less material, last longer, be reusable, and be recycled at the end of their useful life – turning what was formerly “waste” into the “food” for industry and the next generation of products. Producers provide and finance collection programs, ensuring that every consumer product and its packaging are reused or recycled, providing American jobs as well as using resources responsibly. Government creates a level playing field by adopting producer responsibility for recycling for virtually all products and packaging. American resource and energy use drops dramatically, providing a high quality of living while significantly reducing our impact on the planet.
CRADLE² Steering Committee Members
- Matt Prindiville (Chair), Product Policy Institute
- Miriam Gordon, Clean Water Action of California
- Lynne Pledger, Clean Water Action of Massachusetts
- Jamie Rhodes, Clean Water Action of Rhode Island
- Susan Hubbard, Eureka Recycling, Minnesota
- Abigail King, Natural Resources Council of Maine
- Laura Haight, New York Public Interest Research Group
- Bill Sheehan, Product Policy Institute
- Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment
- Lauren Hierl, Vermont Public Interest Research Group
- Suellen Mele, Zero Waste Washington
- Basel Action Network
- Benjamin Environmental Sustainability Team
- Berkshire Environmental Action Team
- California Product Stewardship Council
- Center for Environmental Health
- Center for Health, Environment and Justice
- Central Texas Zero Waste Alliance
- Citizens Campaign for the Environment
- Citizens Environmental Coalition
- Clean Production Action
- Clean Wisconsin
- Dogwood Alliance
- Don’t Waste Massachusetts
- Ecology Action
- Electronics Takeback Coalition
- Environment Rhode Island
- Environment Council of Rhode Island
- Environment Texas
- Environmental Health Strategy Center
- Environmental Law and Policy Center
- Girl Scouts of Rhode Island
- Great Lakes United
- Green Purchasing Institute
- Green Ways Rhode Island – Episcopal Diocese
- Ironbound Community Corporation
- Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy
- Mercury Policy Project
- Maine Women’s Policy Center
- Neighborhood Protection Alliance of Richardson (TX)
- New York Zero Waste Alliance
- Ocean State Action
- Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project
- Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
- Rhode Island Product Stewardship Council
- Selkirk, Coeymans, Ravena Against Pollution (SCRAP)
- Sierra Club California
- Sierra Club, Rhode Island Chapter
- Toxics Action Center
- Toxics Information Project
- Women’s Voices for the Earth
- Zero Waste Alliance
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