AMERIPEN, PSI spar over producer responsibility

AMERIPEN, PSI spar over producer responsibility

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

An internal position paper from the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) has drawn the ire of the Product Stewardship Institute, with PSI saying the document disparages extended producer responsibility — a type of material management system where producers are responsible for recycling and managing products at their end-of-life. But AMERIPEN says it is still developing its position on EPR and that the leaked document was purely for discussion purposes.

While the internal AMERIPEN document supports "effectiveness and efficiency" of current recycling systems, the organization "does not support the EPR proposals currently before state legislatures." AMERIPEN argues that "(1) the current recovery system is not irrevocably broken, but does need improvement; (2) research on programs currently in place around the globe demonstrate that the goals of an EPR system in the U.S. will probably not be met; and, (3) opportunities to optimize the current recovery system in the U.S. have not been exhausted."

PSI founder and director, Scott Cassel, criticized AMERIPEN for crafting a position statement without completing its own EPR research, as well as without the input of government officials, organizations and other stakeholders.

"Despite numerous attempts by governments and organizations like PSI to have a dialogue with many of the companies represented by AMERIPEN, most companies refused to participate in discussions or other collaborative efforts," said Cassel.

Cassel also wrote a post on PSI's blog titled "7 Reasons Why AMERIPEN's Stance on EPR is Flawed," in which he refutes the organization's claims on the viability of producer responsibility systems in the U.S., it's outreach efforts and the goals of its research on the topic.

AMERIPEN executive director Joan Pierce tells a different story, however, saying the draft document in question was intended only as a working paper to be shared with members and the AMERIPEN Technical Advisory Committee as it formulates its EPR policy.

"We are very sorry for any confusion that the unauthorized release of this working document has caused," said Pierce. "Per our philosophy of basing decisions upon sound science and credible data, we are not yet ready to publish an initial position on EPR. In fact, the document that was prematurely released was designed to help ensure that we live up to this philosophy. Based on the input it continues to generate from our members and associates, we are still learning about and evaluating the various domestic and international waste reduction strategies that are in existence or being proposed. We expect to have a final point of view ready for publication by April 15, 2013."

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