CalRecycle moving forward on mandatory EPR regulations

Dive Brief:

  • The California Department of Resources Recovery and Recycling (CalRecycle) is getting serious about the possibility of a mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR) program for packaging, moving forward with "an extensive public consultation process," as reported by Resource Recycling.
  • The agency is looking for new ways to deal with the estimated 8 million tons of packaging waste generated in the state each year. Landfill bans on certain materials and recycled content requirements for certain products are also being considered. 
  • CalRecycle will be hosting a workshop on March 22 with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Packaging International, California Product Stewardship Council, Republic Services and other organizations to discuss details further.

Dive Insight:

Since packaging accounts for about a quarter of the state's municipal solid waste, CalRecycle sees regulation as inevitable in order to hit the state's target of 75% diversion by 2020. The agency originally asked manufacturers for potential solutions, but was unsatisfied with their suggestions for a voluntary program and has since become more adamant in its stance that some form of mandatory system will be necessary.

Multiple states currently have EPR laws for specialized items such as electronics, appliances and hazardous waste. No U.S. state has ever successfully passed EPR regulations for packaging. Similar proposals are moving forward in the European Union and some Canadian provincesAn open-ended EPR bill was recently introduced in Connecticut that could potentially include packaging and has been met with strong opposition from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

Implementing any type of EPR regulation for packaging in the country's most populous state could have a large effect on the industry and will be a long process. As evidenced by CalRecycle's calls for ongoing consultation, this discussion is expected to continue into at least next year.

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Filed Under: Recycling Regulation Waste Diversion
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