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FPI’s Take on EPR

As FPI continues to make its rounds on the speaking and conference circuit this year, there continues to be attention paid to extended producer responsibility (EPR) on agendas, no matter who’s organizing the conference or the intended audience. For those of you under a rock, EPR is a waste management strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products. EPR uses financial incentives to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at end of life. This policy approach often attempts to relieve local governments of the costs of managing certain products by requiring manufacturers to internalize the cost of recycling within the product price. EPR is based upon the principle that producers (usually brand owners) have the greatest control over product design and marketing and therefore these same companies have the greatest ability and responsibility to reduce potential toxicity and waste.

So, where does FPI stand on this hot button issue?
FPI strongly supports market-based extended producer responsibility efforts and voluntary incentives for increased recovery and sustainable design of our products, as well as all packaging. Waste management strategies and product stewardship are very complex issues, and the waste stream is influenced by all involved: end markets for the recovered materials, recyclers, composters, haulers, consumers, foodservice operators and their distributors, packaging manufacturers and their material suppliers. We believe, like many others in the packaging industry, that trying to shift the cost of collection for one type of product in this complex chain to one partner is inequitable and inefficient. To single out the packaging producer as the “bad guy” is a simplistic view of a very complicated system. Any workable solution should involve all partners in the supply chain.

And that’s one of the reasons FPI formed the Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group. Working with supply chain partners, we’re dedicated to seeing more foodservice packaging recovered, whether that’s through composting, recycling or energy recovery. Of course, this is in addition to our members’ own individual efforts, like take-back programs, paying for and sponsoring collection efforts, working with foodservice operators, recyclers, composters and NGOs to establish collection programs to address the challenges of like collection, infrastructure and end market development. The right groups are already working together to make it economically viable for all those along the value chain. But, developing the right solutions will take time – and patience.

What FPI opposes is government mandates that may do little else than fill a city’s coffers instead of addressing the real problem – finding sustainable and economically viable solutions for materials management. Let’s leave the options open so that supply chain partners can determine their most effective and efficient solution based on their unique set of circumstances.

FPI is being asked more frequently what our thoughts are on this topic (surprising, since I thought we’ve made it pretty clear in front of many audiences!). But there it is. Agree with us or not, but that’s what we believe and how we’re backing up our beliefs.

Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 4/15/2014 10:25:40 AM