What is PSI doing to help?
For over six years, PSI has worked with multiple stakeholders to advocate for an environmentally and economically sound solution to PPP management in the U.S. In fact, we were the very first organization to have brought the issue to the attention of the EPA. We have always taken the position that a solution should consider all possible strategies, including EPR, other regulatory measures (e.g., pay-as-you-throw, mandatory recycling, recycled content standards, etc.), and voluntary initiatives. Here are some important highlights of our work to promote the increased recovery of packaging and printed materials, starting with the most recent, first:
2014 – 2015
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) has engaged with PSI to develop recommended policy strategies to increase packaging and printed paper recovery. The ultimate goal is to raise Connecticut's recycling rate up to 60% by 2024. This strategy outline will guide policy decisions statewide by being included in the Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy update in Fall 2015.
CT DEEP is interested in including product stewardship and EPR into this long-term policy guidance tool, as well as other regulatory strategies (e.g., pay-as-you-throw, recycled content standards, etc.), and voluntary initiatives. While this project focuses on Connecticut, it will be a conversation starter for future discussions with regional and national stakeholders on strategies to increase packaging recovery, such as having EPR legislation coexist with a beverage container deposit.
2011 – 2014
PSI participated as the only NGO representative on the Leadership Council of PAC NEXT, a North American initiative with membership from brand owners, retailers, and representatives from commodity groups and governments. PAC NEXT, launched by Canada’s Packaging Association, is dedicated to creating “a world without packaging waste.” PSI served as the co-chair of the Policy Harmonization Committee to conduct research into global best practices related to EPR for packaging. The research focused on ways that global programs reduce cost and regulatory complexity, which culminated in comprehensive summaries of 11 EPR programs: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec in Canada; Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK in Europe; and Australia. PSI facilitated a series of conference calls and led the committee to select top programs to research, identify over 45 program elements to benchmark and compare programs. With the help of a sub-committee, PSI conducted extensive research and one-on-one interviews with those who run these global programs. PSI and PAC NEXT published the report in March 2014.
2013 – 2014
With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9, PSI is leading a two-year project to address common sources of marine debris on three University of California campuses-San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. According to 2012 data from the Ocean Conservancy, six of the top ten contributors to coastal debris are made of disposable plastic: caps and lids, beverage bottles, flimsy plastic bags, food wrappers and containers, disposable flatware (i.e., cups, plates, and cutlery), and plastic straws. These types of products are most readily used for take-away dining options such as cafés, fast food take-out restaurants and convenience stores. Therefore, PSI and our project partners are working the campuses to identify and reduce disposable plastic food service ware that is purchased and used. We are currently collaborating with campus leaders to explore source reduction options based on data we've gathered through this project, and to highlight existing best practices. Some of the strategies we are considering include promoting hydration stations, piloting the use of reusable to-go containers, and using compostable packaging that are compatible with available composting facilities.
2008 – 2014
PSI continued to work with its local and state members to better understand the opportunities and challenges to implement a smooth transition to EPR, and to advocate for an effective role for government. By regularly holding strategic conference calls and developing model legislation for PPP PSI serves as a coordinated voice on behalf of its government members. In addition, PSI has worked with state and local governments to weigh in on EPR legislation introduced in various states throughout the country and to submit testimony. For example, in 2013, PSI presented a range of regulatory strategies to the Rhode Island EPR Paper and Packaging Commission.
2011 – 2014
PSI conducted extensive research and developed a report for Éco Entreprises Québec (EEQ), a Canadian stewardship organization for containers, packaging, and printed matter (CP&PM), on Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) trends in North America. As part of the report, PSI highlighted 11 IPR and product stewardship programs, summarized key stakeholder perspectives, and examined the potential operational, economic, and environmental impacts that IPR programs can have on extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. PSI found that since the collectively financed curbside system is cost-effective and provides comprehensive municipal recycling to 99% of residents in Québec, producers have not pursued IPR as another way to meet their obligations. Emerging IPR programs do not compete with Québec’s EPR program.
PSI conducted a three-part technical conference call series to better understand key issues pertaining to the reduction, reuse, and recycling of packaging and printed paper. These two-hour interactive calls, featuring a diverse set of stakeholder viewpoints and presentations, built on each other to help participants develop an understanding of the problem, goals, key barriers, and priority solutions. PSI facilitated a discussion that explored all viable strategies, including voluntary and legislative, to work towards a comprehensive approach to packaging reduction, reuse, and recycling.
2011 – 2012
PSI’s CEO, Scott Cassel, gave a number of presentations to commodity associations at an annual meeting and to other key stakeholder groups at packaging conferences about the global trends toward EPR for PPP and what it means for the U.S. PSI used these speaking opportunities to educate stakeholders about the opportunities and challenges to shifting away from a patchwork of government funded municipal recycling to a comprehensive EPR approach.
In the fall of 2011, PSI conducted background research on stakeholder perspectives to develop memos for Nestlé Waters North America, which to date has been the only major brand owner to support EPR. PSI conducted interviews with representatives from the waste management industry and facilitated calls with state and local governments to gauge the level of support for an EPR approach. The waste management industry representatives expressed concerns about how a shifting to an EPR system could negatively affect their business model and limit their negotiating ability.
PSI and some of our members wrote a formal letter to the U.S. EPA requesting that they convene a national dialogue on this issue. PSI participated in four U.S. EPA-led meetings and helped develop the problem and goals statement. The meetings were comprised of brand owners, retailers, and government officials to discuss strategies for increasing recycling of packaged materials. However, the dialogue meetings did not include representation from all key stakeholder groups, such as the commodity associations and recyclers. EPA’s Sustainable Financing Report outlines different stakeholder opinions and provides useful background information. Owing to resistance from brand owners to have a meaningful discussion about EPR, the report falls short of reaching an agreement on the financing platform for packaging waste reduction among participants and does not provide an analysis of potential strategies to increase material recovery.