A study of 11 international extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging has identified a series of emerging global best practices for packaging EPR designed to optimize and harmonize solutions for managing packaging waste.
The report is the culmination of two years of research by the Product Stewardship Institute
(PSI), Boston, in association with the Policy Best Practices that Support Harmonization Committee of Toronto-based PAC NEXT. The report seeks to help industry and government work together to find ways to reduce cost and regulatory complexity in existing EPR programs and could serve as a guide for potential EPR programs in the United States, according to PSI.
"The EPR program summaries provided in this report offer a wealth of data for government agencies and industry groups around the world to evaluate, and we look forward to using this information as a springboard for critical stakeholder dialogues," says Scott Cassel, CEO of PSI. "These programs are extremely instructive to those of us in the U.S. seeking ways to significantly boost recycling rates."
The report examines EPR programs in Canada, Europe and Australia. Based on an initial assessment of the data collected, PAC NEXT and PSI conclude that the following attributes, when present together, can constitute a high-performing EPR program:
- the program covers residential, public and industrial, commercial and institutional sources;
- the program covers all material types;
- the cost per ton is low;
- collection and recycling rates are high;
- the value and quality of materials are high;
- the program is convenient for residents and others; and
- producers take full responsibility for postconsumer packaging management.
"What this report has allowed us to do is develop an understanding of how EPR programs for packaging around the world operate—what they share in common, what they do different, what works, what could use some improvement," says Jennifer Holliday, president of PSI's board of directors. "It is our hope that these findings enable industry and government to collaborate on ways to harmonize packaging waste solutions."
PSI and PAC NEXT also have identified the following policies as complementary to EPR:
- pay-as-you-throw programs;
- mandatory recycling requirements;
- landfill bans for recyclable materials; and
- container deposit programs.
The report can be downloaded here