For the first time, 100+ businesses in the packaging value chain, along with more than 50 other organizations have come together to publicly recognize that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is significantly important. Without that, packaging collection and recycling can not be effectively scaled leading to tonnes of packaging polluting the environment.
The statement is published by the non-profit Ellen MacArthur Foundation and has been signed by major brands and retailers like Beiersdorf, Danone, Diageo, Ferrero, FrieslandCampina, H&M, Henkel, Inditex, L’Oréal, Mars, Mondi, Pick n Pay, Reckitt, Schwarz Group, Nestlé, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Walmart.
In addition to these companies, manufacturers and recyclers such as Borealis, Berry Global, DS Smith, Mondi, Tetra Pak, Indorama Ventures and Veolia, investors like European Investment Bank and Closed Loop Partners, and non-profits like WWF, The Recycling Partnership, The Pew Charitable Trusts and As You Sow have signed the statement.
To achieve a circular economy, packaging that can’t be completely done away with or reused, needs to be go through a process of collection, sorting and recycling or should be compostable after use. However, at the moment, this system of processing packaging costs more than the revenues generated from the sale of recycled materials.
Calling for specific, ongoing and adequate funding to make the economics of recycling work, the statement and the supporting position paper outlines why compulsory, fee-based EPR is the only way through which this kind of funding can be provided.
Here is an excerpt from the statement: “As a group of businesses and stakeholders that are drawn from across the packaging value chain, we are calling for the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for packaging. We recognize that EPR is a necessary part of the solution to create the circular economy for packaging we are aiming for. EPR schemes, through which all industry players that introduce packaging to the market provide funding dedicated to its collecting and processing after use, are the only proven and likely pathways to provide the required funding. Without such policies, packaging collection and recycling is unlikely to be meaningfully scaled and tens of millions of tonnes of packaging will continue to end up in the environment every year.
The statement further reads: “To solve the packaging waste and pollution crisis, a comprehensive circular economy approach is required. We must: eliminate the packaging we don’t need; innovate to ensure all the packaging we do need is reusable, recyclable, or compostable; and circulate all the packaging we use, keeping it in the economy and out of the environment. This circular economy approach would lead to significant economic, environmental, and social benefits and contribute to addressing major global challenges, such as plastic pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.”
EPR schemes, through which all industry players that introduce packaging to the market provide funding dedicated to its collecting and processing after use, are the only proven and likely pathways to provide the required fundingEPR statement
Dutch Minister for the Environment, Stientje van Veldhoven said: “In the Netherlands, we see the positive impact of EPR in the value chains where it is implemented. I consider EPR an essential instrument to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.”
Endorser Organisations Make 3 Commitments
Firstly, the entire organization’s interests and actions should be aligned with this statement. Secondly, they need to have effective conversations with governments and other stakeholders and urge for setup of well-designed EPR policies and be supportive on how these policies can be executed along with continuous improvements for EPR schemes in the local context.
Lastly, interact with their peers and collaborations, ensuring that everyone works together on redesigning their positions and actions that are in line with the statement.
VP, Global Policy & Sustainability, The Coca Cola Company, Michael Goltzman said: “We support this statement on the important role that well-designed EPR systems can play in keeping packaging material out of the environment and in the circular economy. Good EPR schemes can motivate businesses and help us achieve our circular economy targets.”
Though the companies and organizations which have signed up might not know the best practices on how to execute EPR for packaging, by endorsing this statement, they aim to send a message that without EPR, tens of millions of tonnes of packaging will continue to harm the planet and they rather be a part of the solution.
Read the full statement here.
Lead image courtesy of Nick Fewings/Unsplash.