For a long time the responsibility for recycling has been put on the shoulders of the consumers. In an effort to shift this responsibility back to the producers and to promote a resource efficient economy Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is more and more seen as an effective tool. Especially European countries have embraced this policy and hold producers accountable for the collection, recovery and disposal of their own products. Wether it is via reimbursing municipalities or organizing the disposal and recycling of the packaging waste. Asia, Africa and South America followed suit. But the U.S. seemed somehow reluctant to implement this policy.
This summer however Maine has been the first U.S. state to introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law. This law forces companies that produce packaging waste to help pay for the costs of its recycling and disposal. Soon after Oregon followed suit. Producers of packaging, paper products, and food service ware now have to pay fees to support the improvement and expansion of recycling programs and infrastructure statewide. Similar bills are under consideration in several other states.
EPR laws are already implemented in the U.S. for the safe disposal of medications, electronic waste, refrigerants, and paints, according to the Product Stewardship Institute that keeps track of EPR laws. But if the rest of the nation follows to hold packaging waste producers accountable for the recycling and disposal is yet to be seen.