More than 40 billion aluminum cans are dumped annually into landfills – enough material to make 25,000 jetliners.
Letting these valuable resources go to waste has created serious problems for companies, taxpayers, and the environment. Our recent estimate found that companies threw $11 billion of re-claimable packaging materials into landfills in 2010. Taxpayers foot the bill for these landfills while costly virgin resources are extracted from the earth to produce new packaging.
Now, a solution that fixes both sides of the equation is gaining traction among forward-thinking companies (like Nestlé Waters NA, New Belgium Brewing, and Coca-Cola), governments, and the recycling industry: producer responsibility. National, mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies would shift the cost of packaging recycling from taxpayers to producers.
Thirty two states already have EPR systems for batteries, cell phones, and CFLs- but none cover packaging. Meanwhile, nearly 50 countries have EPR laws and enjoy recycling rates like Denmark’s 84%.
To help move the needle on EPR, As You Sow is working with companies including Kraft, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kroger, and Whole Foods, shareholders, and NGOs to build support for state laws mandating EPR. This summer, we released an original report outlining EPR’s potential to create new green jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stem the flow of harmful plastics and debris into our oceans.
Through our combined efforts, EPR will help us forge a path toward responsible and sustainable packaging.