Packaging EPR Talking Points

New York’s municipal recycling programs are precariously close to failure due to factors beyond the control of local governments.

  • For decades, local governments have subsidized the handling of millions of tons of packaging waste generated in the state.
  • Consumer confusion over complex packaging and inconsistent labeling has led to high rates of contamination.
  • International markets for recycled materials are increasingly volatile.
  • Governments must decide whether or not they can continue funding and operating their recycling programs.
  • Even waste disposal capacity is not guaranteed in the long-term.

There is only one solution: legislation being considered by the New York State Legislature regarding packaging waste reduction and recycling.

  • It’s also known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and paper products (PPP).
  • EPR for PPP will fix New York’s fragmented recycling system and build an equitable, cost-effective program that is not financed by taxpayers.
  • It provides sustainable funding from producers to relieve municipalities of the financial burdens they currently face in operating recycling programs.
  • It will also require clear, consistent consumer education on the proper end-of-life management of consumer packaging to reduce confusion and contamination.
  • The impact will be massive for New York state, where the recycling rate is just 18%.

It is critical that this issue be addressed in the budget.

  • Local governments need Department of Environmental Conservation resources in place to initiate this policy.
  • Addressing it outside the budget risks costly delays or even the potential for this crucial issue to once again not be addressed.

It will save New York local governments more than $300 million each year, expand access to recycling for all state residents, triple stagnant recycling rates, and create green jobs.

  • Our state’s communities and taxpayers spend that much money each year just to recycle, which does not even include the cost of waste disposal.
  • A packaging EPR law in New York will hold brand owners responsible for financing and managing their post-consumer packaging and paper, which is 40% of the waste stream.

Four states – Maine, Oregon, Colorado, and California – have enacted packaging EPR laws.

  • In Europe and Canada, over 40 countries and provinces have packaging EPR programs.
  • Many have been in place for more than 35 years.
  • Some track recycling rates as high as 80%.

The governor’s proposal would lower greenhouse gas emissions from waste, helping the state to reach the climate goals established by the Climate Action Council.

  • In fact, the CAC strongly recommended that a packaging EPR bill be enacted in New York state for that very reason.

The need for a new recycling approach has never been clearer. For local governments, that time must be now.