As Director of CRI’s Government Relations, I cover all 50 states. I see a lot (not sure that’s actually a good thing, but I’ll let you decide). I’ve been asked to share a little bit of my perspective on the issue. In order to do that I feel a little background is necessary.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products. Also known as "Product Stewardship," (EPR) uses political means to hold producers liable for the costs of managing their products at end of life.
There are a number of forms this can take: a reuse, buy-back, or recycling program, or in energy production. EPR transfers responsibility for waste from government to private industry. There are several ways that this can be approached: regulatory, negotiated and voluntary.
As I monitor legislation across the 50 states I am seeing this type of legislation appear at both the state and local levels. It encompasses a number of industries including (but not limited to): electronics, plastic bags, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, medications and yes, even carpet!
In Oregon, for example, earlier this year, legislation was introduced regarding EPR. It was all encompassing. The incredibly broad reach would have been very hard to manage and mandate. This particular piece of legislation even included carpet. In fact, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Website even provided a link to the CARE website.
I question, why, when we are already working on voluntary programs such as CARE which provide market-based solutions to the recycling issue, the government feels the need to mandate such programs?
Fortunately, we were able to work with other stakeholders on the issue in Oregon and the legislation was changed to just relate to light bulbs. This leads me to believe that states will now begin to take a piece meal approach to the issues of EPR and target individual industries one at a time.
This issue is not going away. We will continue to monitor activities. EPR is certainly and issue of concern, but it can also be an opportunity.
~ Jenn Mendez
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