How Corporate America Might Just Save Recycling
Today we look at what might happen if recycling started to really work in this country, and turn to a potential solution–one that is being promoted by some of the very companies responsible for creating the country’s packaging waste.
Called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), this legislation would essentially set requirements for companies to collect and recycle a certain percentage of the packaging waste they generate, but would leave how they go about doing it up to the companies themselves. Companies like it because it gives them some control, and environmentalists like that it could drastically improve U.S. recycling rates (while rates are decently high for paper and aluminum, for other materials–particularly plastic–they are low, and overall only 33 percent of municipal solid waste is diverted from landfills). A recent report from the Blue-Green Alliance found that increasing recycling rates in the United States to 75 percent for all municipal solid waste would create 1.5 million jobs. For consumers, who, at the end of the day, are the ones that actually pay for recycling, EPR promises a more effective, efficient system, one that delivers better value for taxpayer dollars. While the cost of EPR would be built into the cost of consumer products, the legislation would eliminate the fee consumers currently pay for city- or county-provided recycling.
All of which is not to say that EPR is without its detractors. Some municipal governments worry about handing control of recycling systems over to industry, and some industries are loathe to see any sort of government regulation of packaging, even if it’s legislation that leaves implementation up to industry.