Recycling has always been framed as the consumer’s responsibility; however, we throw out a lot of trash because we are sold and have access to a lot of trash.
A big step towards solving our waste crisis is the “circular economy”, where manufacturers take responsibility and design materials for reuse rather than disposal. Product manufacturers have direct influence on the recyclability of the packaging, however, recycling programs are usually managed and financed at the local level.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) shifts responsibility from the local level back to producers. This includes strategies such as:
- Organizing and funding take-back and recycling programs for products and packaging.
- Designing products that are easier to reuse, repair, and recycle.
EPR policies are gaining momentum across the United States. Several states already have existing EPR programs for hard-to-dispose of items from industries including pharmaceuticals, paint, and batteries. Now, states are introducing policies for packaging in general, including Maine and Oregon. With the right policies in place, recycling has the potential to be streamlined across the country.