The government of Ontario, Canada’s largest province, recently announced expansions to the region’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme which will make producers of products and packaging fully responsible for recycling. Currently, producers pay half the costs for collection and recycling of printed paper products within Ontario. Between 2023 and 2025, the funding of packaging recycling will shift entirely onto producers, while at the same time collection will expand to include “common single-use and packaging-like products such as paper and plastic cups, foils, trays, bags and boxes sold for home use [as well as] single-use items that are distributed or sold to consume food and beverage products, like stir sticks, straws, cutlery, and plates.”

The legislature in the US state of Maine is the first state to pass an EPR bill within the country. The bill, LD 1541, would charge producers a fee for the weight of packaging articles used in the state, including food wrappers. Fees could be modulated based on the producer’s efforts to ease recycling. Examples of how to facilitate recycling include: reusing packaging, reducing packaging toxicity, incorporating post-consumer recycled content “provided that such use does not increase the toxicity of packaging material” (FPF reported here and here), and incorporating design changes towards “single-material packaging that includes prominent and easily understandable recycling or disposal instructions.” Governor Janet Mills needs to sign the bill for it to become law. Some producers are encouraging the governor to veto, arguing the bill “would be overly burdensome.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown will decide this week whether to sign bill SB 482. The bill would establish a fee program similar to Maine’s and be applied to packaging, printing and writing paper, and food serviceware. In addition, SB 482 would establish a “producer responsibility organization” to implement the EPR program within Oregon.

Both Maine and Oregon exclude beverage bottles in their EPR schemes as they are covered under other recycling programs. These EPR bills in North America come at the same time as many producers, including Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Mars, are endorsing EPR concepts for food packaging (FPF reported).

 

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Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (June 3, 2021). “Ontario Enhancing Blue Box Program.”

Colin Staub (June 8, 2021). “Largest Canadian province to roll out EPR.” Resource Recycling

Megan Quinn (June 27, 2021). “EPR for packaging bills go to governors’ desks in Maine and Oregon.” Waste Dive

Michael Shepherd (June 17, 2021). “Maine Legislature backs landmark bill to shift recycling costs from communities to producers.” Bangor Daily News

Maine Legislature (June 2021). “Legislative Document 1541 – An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money.”

Oregon Legislature (June 2021). “Senate Bill 0582 – Relating to modernizing Oregon’s recycling system.”

Catherine Boudreau (June 15, 2021). “Companies want a tax on food wrappers. Just not Maine’s.” Politico

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