Study paints early picture of statewide EPR

Study paints early picture of statewide EPR plan

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

What would a statewide extended producer responsibility (EPR) network look like? An analysis focused on Minnesota is starting to provide some insight.

"Working Paper #1: Study Design" lays out the basic groundwork and methodology for the three-part study, which investigates the effects of an EPR program in the state of Minnesota on household packaging and printed paper (PPP) collection. EPR advocacy group Recycling Reinvented hired the consultancy Reclay StewardEdge to research and author the study.

According to the first paper, a statewide EPR program in Minnesota would mandate producers of PPP to handle and dispose of their products post-consumption. Taxpayers and local governments would no longer be responsible for collection and producers would "typically form one or more producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to fulfill their obligations," the study states. PROs would be expected to contract haulers and local governments to effectively conduct PPP collection and disposal.

Incentives would be offered to encourage consumer participation in the program and producers willing to develop and design more environmentally friendly products and packaging would also be offered incentives. No details have been released as to what those incentives will entail.

The study goes on to explain that Recycling Reinvented's goals behind such a program would be threefold: increasing the tonnage of PPP collected for recycling and reuse by manufacturers; minimizing the cost of increasing collection; and maximizing the environmental benefit of increased recycling. Advantages to an EPR program, according to the report, hinge on increasing access and convenience to recycling throughout the state while instituting a streamlined and universal program.

The limitations of the study include the sample state used – what works in Minnesota may not work everywhere. The study authors note that, while participation is expected, an EPR program would nonetheless require a significant amount of cooperation from consumers, local and state governments and producers.

Paul Gardner, Reinvented Recycling's executive director, explained to Resource Recycling that he believes the study provides a valuable foundation for understanding how EPR works: "It will give readers an idea of how EPR would affect consumers for commonly purchased products, how an industry-governed financing system can enhance existing recycling systems, and take people through the thought process behind the opportunities and limitations that could come from EPR. Each state is going to be different, but they won't have to reinvent the wheel completely."

Recycling Reinvented's "Extended Producer Responsibility Cost-Benefit Study" will include two additional working papers set to be released to the public later this year.

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