Packaging EPR - State Passage and What’s Next

Packaging EPR - State Passage and What’s Next

On July 12, 2021, Maine became the first state to sign extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging into law. On August 6, 2021 Oregon became the second state to pass a packaging EPR bill. These programs target most types of packaging and include printing paper. Producers will be required to pay into a stewardship organization and help with the management and recycling of their products. This blog helps unpack what materials are covered under each state bill, and what the expected retailer responsibilities and fees are. As more details are provided as the programs move towards implementation, we will update the information below.

Maine

On July 12, 2021, Maine became the first state to sign legislation (LD 1541) creating EPR for packaging and printed paper in the state. This new law places financial responsibility on producers to fund the management and recycling of their products.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has until December 31, 2023, to hammer out the specific details determining how the program will operate and be implemented, including the creation of a packaging stewardship organization (PSO). Information on the current material coverage and expected retailer responsibilities under this legislation is covered below.

What material is covered?

Covered products include packaging and printed paper. LD 1541 defines packaging material as a “discrete type of material, or a category of material that includes multiple discrete types of material with similar management requirements and similar commodity values, used for the containment, protection, delivery, presentation or distribution of a product, including a product sold over the Internet, at the time that the product leaves a point of sale with or is received by the consumer of the product.” The bill excludes some packaging applications, including beverage containers (Maine has a beverage container deposit program), long-term storage materials, paint containers, and other assorted materials.

What are the retailer responsibilities and fees?

Beginning in 2024, the law requires producers of packaging (brand-owners) sold in the state to pay annual fees for the operation of municipal recycling programs. Producers will fund a PSO to manage the recycling program based on the amount and type of packaging they sell into Maine.

Fees will be determined by the DEP and will be based on weight or volume and adjusted to incentivize more environmentally friendly characteristics. These may include aspects such as the increased use of recycled content recyclability of a packaging material, the decreased toxicity in a packaging material, a decreased amount of packaging material used, and the increased reuse of packaging material.

Oregon

In addition to Maine, legislation in Oregon, SB 582, passed on August 6, 2021. The bill is a shared responsibility measure that seeks to expand and improve recycling across the state. Under the legislation, the state will establish a standardized list of items that can be recycled. Funding generated from fees levied on producers under the program will be directed toward upgrading facilities to meet new performance standards. The below outlines the expected material coverage and retailer responsibilities.

What material would be covered under this bill?

Covered products include packaging, printing and writing paper, and food service ware. Beverage containers would be excluded due to Oregon’s current beverage container deposit program.

What would be the retailer responsibilities and fees?

SB 582 requires producers to join producer responsibility organizations (PROs) and pay annual fees based on the environmental impact of their products.

The base fee paid by each producer will be calculated by multiplying the material-specific base fee rate by the total amount of covered products of each material sold or distributed by the producer in or into the state. Fees will be eco-modulated based on a number of factors including the “environmental impact” as measured by LCA, post-consumer recycled content, product-to-package ratio, and recyclability.

Relevant RILA Resources

EPR Packaging Bills Introduced to States

An overview of recently introduced state EPR packaging legislation.

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Product Stewardship Matrix

Summary of state product bans, EPR and product stewardship legislation for products such as carpet, batteries, electronics, paint and more.

Read More

Extended Producer Responsibility Bills Gain Momentum

Overview of current EPR bills in the U.S. and a brief history of EPR programs that exist

Read More

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