Recycling Reinvented releases American EPR study

Study of extended producer responsibility for packaging shows potential for success in the U.S., nonprofit says.

March 4, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Municipal / IC&I Paper Plastics

Recycling Reinvented, Shoreview, Minn., has released the full results of a study on an American-designed extended producer responsibility (EPR) recycling model. The results demonstrate that EPR for packaging and printed paper (PPP) can significantly increase stagnant recycling rates for valuable packaging commodities at similar costs to current methods and be financed directly by industry with limited impacts, according to Recycling Reinvented.

The study analyzes a proposed model of EPR for PPP that is administered and managed by industry producers and implemented at the state level. The full scope of the study lays out the definitions for the proposed system, analyzes the potential benefits and expenses of such a system and determines the potential fees on packaging types to finance the system.

Full study results and other documents can be found on the websites and

"We set out to give industry leaders, policymakers and advocates the real data and analysis they need to make informed decisions on an EPR system designed for American markets," says Paul Gardner, executive director for Recycling Reinvented and former state legislator. "We've achieved that purpose and the result is a truly positive story."

Previously released results demonstrated that the proposed EPR model is likely to increase recycling rates with costs similar to the current system, according to Recycling Reinvented. In the final study report, one of the most important findings for stakeholders has to do with the fees that would be assessed on packaging materials to finance the system. Results show that across most materials, fees on producers would be fractions of a penny per unit. In the case of products with high postconsumer value and well-developed markets, producers may even receive credits, the nonprofit says.  

When compared with other systems designed to increase recycling rates, according to Recycling Reinvented, the study demonstrates that EPR will provide similar results for more materials at significantly less cost to producers.

The study was reviewed by more than two dozen recycling experts at three major stages throughout the process, the nonprofit says. Reviewers’ comments influenced the design of the EPR model, the findings on projected outcomes and expenses and the fees assessed to producers on each packaging material. Throughout the study, working papers have been available for public comment in an effort for the process to be collaborative and transparent, Recycling Reinvented says.

"As the largest producer of bottled water in North America, we feel strongly about issues affecting packaging and we see the coming impacts of commodity shortages of postconsumer recycled materials," says Brian Flaherty of Nestlé Waters North America. "We are pleased that Recycling Reinvented encouraged participation of a broad list of stakeholders in this study and stayed true to their mission to establish a factual baseline for American EPR."

Recycling Reinvented promotes increasing recycling rates of waste packaging and printed material in the United States through an EPR model.

Recycling Reinvented contracted with Reclay StewardEdge Inc. on the project.

Reclay StewardEdge is based in Toronto with offices in Manitoba and Florida. The company provides consulting and program management services related to product stewardship on behalf of clients in North America and internationally.