Retail aisle with paper and plastic packaging.

Paper and packaging EPR is already firmly established as part of the Canadian and European waste management landscape. |

Coca-Cola, Unilever and Walmart are among the companies that have backed a statement from a global group in support of extended producer responsibility, the latest example of the seismic shift in corporate sentiments around the policy approach.

Over 100 corporations in the packaging value chain endorsed an Ellen MacArthur Foundation statement backing the policy strategy for packaging. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a broad policy framework that makes producers responsible for funding and/or managing the collection and recycling of their products.

The statement comes as legislators in Maine passed a bill creating an EPR program for packaging. That’s the furthest an EPR bill has advanced in any state legislature. Meanwhile, Oregon lawmakers are getting close to passing their own EPR bill for packaging.

Paper and packaging EPR is already firmly established as part of the Canadian and European waste management landscape.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation statement, which says “EPR is a necessary part of the solution to create the circular economy for packaging we are aiming for,” was endorsed by prominent brand owners and retailers, such as Danone, Diageo, L’Oréal, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Walmart. It was also endorsed by a number of plastic and packaging manufacturers, such as Borealis, Berry Global, DS Smith, Mondi, Tetra Pak and Indorama Ventures. A full list of organizations endorsing the statement is available online. 

The foundation notes that the sale price of bales of recovered commodities simply fails to cover the costs of collecting, sorting and marketing packaging scrap.

“We need dedicated, ongoing and sufficient funding to make the economics of recycling work,” according to a foundation press release. “This statement and the supporting position paper set out why mandatory, fee-based EPR is the only proven and likely way to provide this funding.”

While advocates of EPR highlight how EPR shifts costs burdens from municipalities to producers and can provide recycling program consistency across different local jurisdictions, opponents point out the frameworks can present concerns over monopolization, lack of transparency, consumer price increases and more.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation noted that by endorsing the statement, the companies are committing to ensure their entire organization’s actions are aligned with the statement, so they won’t publicly tout EPR while simultaneously dispatching lobbyists to fight it in legislatures and Congress, for example.

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