TLMI Highlights Impacts of Extended Producer Responsibility Programs
On Thursday, March 26, TLMI hosted a webinar highlighting the impact of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, a concept that encourages manufacturers to take responsibility for their products throughout the product life cycle. The session featured Resa Dimino, senior consultant at Resource Recycling Systems, and Bryan Vickers, senior associate at Pace LLP. The webinar outlined the attributes of effective packaging EPR programs, and demonstrated two Canadian models of the system.
Dimino illustrated the primary drivers of printed paper and packaging EPR programs, including a need for stable funding for municipal recycling programs, present and expected market challenges, and stagnant municipal recycling rates. An effective EPR program, she said, requires the following: a producer responsibility organization (PRO) to create legislation for the EPR, a detailed program plan to outline program goals and objectives, and a growing use of eco-modulated fees to incentivize environmental design and penalize negative attributes.
In an effort to demonstrate programs that adhere to these guidelines, Dimino spoke about two PROs that have implemented EPR systems in Canada: Éco Entreprises Québec (EEQ) and British Columbia-based Recycle BC.
Éco Entreprises utilizes a full EPR system where municipalities deliver services and producers cover all costs. In Québec, local governments can implement recycling programs through either direct service or private service providers, and producers can either meet obligations individually or through the use of PRO EEQ. The fully EPR system in British Columbia requires producers to meet obligations through PRO Recycle BC, and gives local governments the optional role of acting as “collection agent.”
With growing expectations for environmental accountability and the rise of EPR programs, there have been an increasing number of eco-modulated fees, including a penalty for PVC labels in France, and a higher fee for non-removable full wrap shrink labels in Italy. With the increasing prevalence of these fees, the incentive for developing fully recyclable design is rapidly growing.
Vickers then discussed TLMI engagement and position on EPR policies. While attention towards EPR policies has grown, TLMI has not taken a formal position or submitted testimony on EPR legislation, he said.
Vickers explained the arguments in favor of and against EPRs. He explained that these programs can reduce landfill disposal and public space litter, drive packaging design, and reduce local government recycling costs, but can conversely create overly complex systems with uncapped costs, develop unclear metrics and penalties for non-recyclable packaging, and doesn’t necessarily equate to a better quality system of recycling. Alternatives to this system include cart-based recycling, statewide pay-as-you-throw systems, and incentivizing consumers.