Industry Responds to Passage of Colorado’s EPR Packaging Bill

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Colorado is the third state in the United States to pass an extended producer responsibility bill for packaging, and the first in the 2022 legislative session. | Arthur Budkevics/Shutterstock

While many industry leaders have welcomed the recent passage of a Colorado bill establishing extended producer responsibility for printed paper and packaging, others are calling on Governor Jared Polis to oppose his veto.

Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of American Beverage (formerly known as the American Beverage Association), said in a press release that the legislation “is a model for creating a circular economy for recyclables, and we encourage Governor Polite to sign this legislation.”

“Our 100% recyclable bottles and cans are made to be remade, and one of our industry’s highest priorities is getting them back,” she said, adding that the bill would help achieve that goal.

However, in a statement Posted immediately after its passage, the American Forest & Paper Association urged Polis to veto the legislation.

“An EPR program is not the right policy approach for sustainable paper products,” said Terry Webber, AF&PA vice president of industrial affairs. “Colorado should instead focus on underfunded and underdeveloped recycling programs.”

The State Senate on May 11 vote 21-14 to approve Internal Bill 22-1355who past the state House of Representatives on May 2. Polis has 30 days to sign the bill. The bill has become a breaking point in a broader industry conversation about the pros and cons of the funding concept.

HB22-1355 warrants that companies selling consumer packaging and some printed papers join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) or submit an individual plan, with exceptions for small businesses and highly regulated packaging, such as drugs. The PRO would then fund and manage, through assessments, a statewide recycling system.

The PRO can then use up to 5% of the dues it collects for administration, but cannot use any dues for employee bonuses. Every three years, beginning in 2028, the state will also conduct a review of the consumer cost impacts resulting from the program.

Before the plan goes into effect, PRO must engage an independent third party to do a needs assessment of the state’s current recycling services and what is needed to expand access and improve rates. This must be completed by 2024, according to the bill.

Colorado is the third state in the United States to pass an extended packaging producer responsibility bill, and the first in the 2022 legislative session. In 2021, EPR bills passed in Oregon and Maine and were signed into law.

Supporters call for the bill to be signed

Among the bill’s supporters was the Colorado-based nonprofit recycling organization Eco-Cycle. Kate Bailey, director of policy and research at Eco-Cycle, highlighted the process that led to the development of the bill.

“Our success is due to the broad coalition of supporters we have assembled, including national businesses, state enterprises, local governments, urban and rural small and large, recyclers and the environmental community,” said she said in an interview, “and that it was really a collaborative effort to come up with a policy based on proven best practices around the world and made for Colorado.

In a press release sent after the bill passed, Bailey said the policy will make it easier for all Coloradans to recycle more plastics, aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard and printed paper. and help create a more resilient domestic supply of recycled materials. for industries and businesses.

“Amid historic supply chain disruptions, rampant climate change and widespread plastic pollution, there has never been a more important time to invest in recycling,” she said.

In addition to the AF&PA, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) opposite The law project. Barrett Jensen, government affairs manager for Waste Connections of Colorado, testified on behalf of the NWRA Rocky Mountain Chapter at a May 4 hearing.

Jensen argued that studies of current European EPR policies have found that there is no evidence that EPR has led to the use of more recycled content and that EPR would raise prices for consumers.

The chapter recommended conducting a needs assessment before adopting an EPR program.

The legislation has been supported by many local elected officials, as well as several major brands and packaging producers, including Amcor, Coca-Cola, L’Oréal USA, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SC Johnson and Unilever USA.

Local business owner Adam Hill, who owns the Direct Polymers recycling operation, said he was often “challenged by not getting enough local recycled plastic feedstock”.

“We often have to bring in material from many states to meet our production needs, when much of this raw material is available right here in Colorado,” he said in a press release. “HB22-1355 will kickstart recycling in Colorado and mean a larger, more consistent stream of plastic waste that we can bring in, reprocess, and sell to local and regional manufacturers.”

State Representative Lisa Cutter, one of the sponsors of HB22-1355, said in the statement that the bill “will protect our climate, create a simpler and more consistent recycling system across the state, and help to create a circular economy.

“We’ve been lagging behind in this area, and that gives us the opportunity to be leaders,” she said.

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