Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

EPR provides a financial incentive to manufacturers to use packaging that is recyclable. Companies pay fees for packaging that cannot be recycled, with the fees reduced for packaging that is easier to recycle. There are no fees for packaging that can be entirely recycled.

The experience in Quebec is that this program has brought $250 million back to communities to support recycling programs. EPR was originally introduced in Germany in 1991, and into the rest of the European Union three years later. As demonstrated in Quebec, the program has no impact on the cost of products to consumers. Further, the rate of recycling is 63% in Quebec versus a paltry 25% in the US.

Maine is the first state in the US to implement this program. Oregon has just passed an EPR law, and both Nestle and Walmart now support this legislation.

Maybe there’s something else to learn from our Canadian friends.




  1. There were some bad ideas in the Nineties – remember Clinton’s carbon trading? – but it’s good that you think this is a good one.
    It does seem like a good idea, to tax things based on the pollution they cause.


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