Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product and its packaging is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. This means that producers should have a role in what happens to the product and packaging after its original use is complete. Here’s everything you need to know about EPR – and why it is important to talk about it.
Clear and Consistent Implementation
EPR policies are decided by each individual state’s legislation – many of which have different recycling rates and requirements. Because of this, there is no consistent vision for collection, sorting, reprocessing, or end market advancement.
Moving forward, the goal is to unite and coordinate these laws and develop a clear plan that can be adopted for more states. The Flexible Packing Association (FPA) and industry partners believe that well-crafted and harmonized EPR is a better approach than banning certain types of packaging because they are not readily recyclable.
Reuse and Recycle
The main goal of EPR is to ensure that producers have an active role in supporting a circular economy. When companies are tasked with designing packaging, they are encouraged to use materials that are both sustainable and recyclable.
Those companies are then responsible for putting resources and investment into modernizing the collection, sortation and reprocessing infrastructure, so that all packaging is collected for circularity. Most curbside recycling programs will not accept plastic bags, films, or wraps, but they can be collected through store drop-off programs currently. Ultimately, FPA and its members would like to see all flexible packaging collected curbside or alongside curbside collection.
One of the final steps in EPR lies in educating and providing the public with the tools to better understand sustainable efforts. From knowing how to better locate recycling labels on the product to properly separating them after use, there is much work to be done in creating consistent practices that consumers can adopt.
As consumers, we must do our part to carry out the end-of-life phase for products and packaging as the producers intended. By educating yourself and taking note of your local store drop-off locations, you take the first step in supporting a program to create cleaner and safer spaces, positively affecting your quality of life.
For more information, visit: https://www.flexpack.org/publication/RG93bmxvYWQ6NzY3