The Outlook of Extended Producer Responsibility in 2022

By FOCUS, A Leonine Business

In our upcoming 2022 Review/Preview we discuss the looming issues facing statewide lawmakers. One of those issues facing legislators in the upcoming year will be extended producer responsibility. Since 2017, China has been increasingly reluctant to accept U.S. recyclables. In January 2021 they stopped taking in the trash of the U.S. and Europe altogether, according to Forbes. This was a severe setback for the Biden administration’s environmental aspirations, but most of the impact was felt by local recycling programs that now have nowhere to store or send all of the trash normally absorbed by China, reports Bloomberg. Part of the pressure has been shifted to producers by extending the responsibility of consumer waste onto them.

The push for extended producer responsibility (EPR) has been prevalent in 26 states this past year with California running away with the most pieces of passed legislation (11). California’s EPR headlines culminated in a $1.1 million settlement between The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). CARE was ruled to not have been demonstrating meaningful increases in carpet recycling rates as required by state EPR laws, reports Resource Recycling.

Maine had an active year for EPR legislation with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signing LD 1541/Chapter 455. This act establishes a stewardship program for packaging requiring producers to pay into a fund based on the amount and recyclability of their packaging. The funds are then used to fund municipal recycling and waste management programs and public awareness campaigns, reports the Maine Environmental Protection Department.

As public discourse on recycling has taken off in the U.S., EPR seems to be among the issues that lawmakers and businesses will consider. With its preliminary successes in Maine, according to PBS, other states may look to employ EPR as one of many potential policies to deal with plastic waste. Massachusetts and New Hampshire have already prefiled a number of EPR bills for their respective upcoming sessions, now even targeting e-waste in some capacity. California, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are also states to keep an eye on in the upcoming sessions for EPR legislation since many of their bills were left unaddressed this past year.