Last week, Ameripen, the trade association for the North American packaging value chain, held the first of their 5-part series on helping to prepare organizations for EPR in the U.S. The series will show how to engage in the final stages of state-specific program development and provide guidance on how best to prepare for producer responsibility organization (PRO) membership and reporting requirements. The first webinar covered states’ updates on implementation, focusing on Colorado, Oregon, California, and Maine.

Rob Keith, Ameripen’s Membership & Policy Director, thanked 2024 webinar sponsors, some of whom will be presenting in future installments of the series and introduced moderator Gregory Melkonian, Regulatory and Government Affairs Analyst for Serlin Haley. He shared one piece of advice for navigating regulatory rulemaking—plot out the timeline that each EPR state is following as they implement their laws, including deadlines and comment periods. A good starting point is to work backwards from there to research issues, build a case, comments, letters, etc. 


Darla Arians, Producer Responsibility and EPR Lead for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, talked about the EPR timelines in the state. Actions from December 2022 to August 2023 included hosting a first advisory meeting in January 2023 and first rulemaking; a PRO was appointed (Colorado Action Alliance), a needs assessment RFP issued, facilitation services RFP issued, etc. Pending items from January 2024 to January 2026 are joint budget committee, second and third rulemaking, program plan due, producers must join a PRO, third rule making, and plan implementation.

Colorado’s Needs Assessment evaluates the existing recycling system as well as proposes recycling and collection targets by 2030 and 2035. It will also inform development of the proposal over the next year. Feedback on the draft report was open until February 19, 2024. The department is currently conducting a review of the comments. The Needs Assessment compiled and analyzed the existing recycling access and looked at infrastructure and operational costs to implement an effective program. It also emphasized proposing a list to cover which materials were recyclable. Project elements that need to be analyzed include residential collection, demographics, contamination, processing capacity, end markets, and others. One of the first steps is to develop a free and equitable system of package recycling for all Colorado residents. The study also identified opportunities, such as increasing consumer packaging/paper recycling rate, universal statewide recycling guidelines, and others. The next step is to present the report to the legislature with a proposed scenario, with the study to repeat every five years.

Over the last six months, rules have been drafted for producers and PROs, as well as  general provisions for the program. Colorado has had an in-depth stakeholder process, including five stakeholder meetings with about 600 attending and giving feedback for consideration in the second draft. Comment period for the second draft is open now through July 2024. 2025 will present a rule concept for the eco-modulation bonus schedule. This encourages producers to create more sustainable products and packaging—it specifies three malices and five incentives. Malices include using covered materials that are not on the minimum recovery list, designs and practices that disrupt prices, etc. Incentives include refillable and reusable covered materials, innovations and practices to enhance recyclability, commodity value, amount of material used in packaging, etc.


Nicole Portley, Program Plan Lead for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, spoke about being at the halfway point of passing the EPR law in 2021 with a start date of July 1, 2025. She emphasized that they are on track with the prep work and will have an active 2024 and 2025 underway. On March 31, 2024, the first PRO program plan is due, July 1, 2025 is the deadline for producers to join a PRO and pay fees, and producers should be engaged by July 2024. DEQ is reviewing plans against the requirements and will be assisted by a multi-state stakeholder governor-appointed Recycling Council. It will go through two rounds and the DEQ will give the final approval at the end of the year. The Recycling Council has formed subcommittees for its review, including material onramping, equity, responsible material end markets, etc.—each will meet between April and June to discuss the first draft review.

Oregon’s Need Assessment includes a jumping off point for one of the PROs many obligations, including to fund system expansion because Oregon has a joint responsibility system. The completed first Needs Assessment was in Summer 2023—97 percent of county respondents and 91 percent of city respondents indicated interest in expanding recycling services. The Needs Assessment points PROs towards eligible costs they will accrue in first program plan period (studies reoccur every 2 years with subsequent assessments every 5 years). Verifying needs and negotiating with governments on what they need to do is underway.

Oregon did have two rulemaking sessions. One over the Summer 2022 through November 2023; rulemaking two concludes in November 2024 and is approaching public comment. Rulemaking 1 focused on the nuts and bolts of the of the recycling modernization act, which were some measures that needed to be in place in order to build upon in rule making, including recycling acceptance lists, etc. Much of the effort was put into developing the Uniform Statewide Collection List. PROs can onramp materials through their program. The second list was the PRO Recycling Acceptance List. This involves the PRO setting up network of collection points for those materials. Rulemaking 1 also focused on responsible end markets, clarifying the responsible standard, auditing verification results, etc. The Rulemaking 2 timeline covers standards and fees for the co-mingled recycling processors. Currently,  processors get revenue by tip fees and sales of recyclable materials; under new systems, they will also have revenue through processor commodity risk fees and contamination management fees. Studies are underway on current MRF and future MRF operating costs. Fees deliver a network of MRFs that can meet their permit obligations. The Recycling Modernization Act includes Living Wage and Supporting Benefits (equity) for MRF workers and defining what is a living wage and Waste Prevention and Reuse Fee to PROs—large producers must disclose 1 percent of their products on a biannual basis. On March 14, the DEQ will be holding a meeting on clarifying producer definitions—who needs to pay for a particular covered product?


Erin Rodriguez, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for CalRecycle, gave an introduction to California’s EPR law, which includes focusing more plastic packaging. On June 30, 2023, CalRecycle appointed 15 members of the advisory board. The 16th member who represented the PRO was appointed shortly after the appointment of the PRO. Throughout 2023, many regulatory and non-regulatory workshops were held that were available to the public. On December 28, 2023, CalRecycle published the initial lists of recyclable covered material categories and compostable covered material categories. On January 5, 2024, CalRecycle appointed Circular Action Alliance to serve as the initial PRO.

Currently, CalRecycle is continuing to develop the statewide Needs Assessment on SB 54, including research studies, data collection and analyses. The actions and investments needed to reach SB 54’s goals are increasing the refillable and recyclable materials, and cutting California’s single-use packaging and food service waste. They are working with local governments, recyclers and composters, haulers and other transporters, an advisory board, etc. The first phase will include evaluating the current system for managing materials covered by law and phase two will identify the actions and investments needed to meet the mandates of SB 54.  She said they are currently in phase one and look forward to continuing this needs assessment.

An outline of draft regulations is available on CalRecycling website, including a list of articles covered for Chapter 11.1 and 11.5. She encouraged attendees to sign up for CalRecycle’s listserve for more information since they are going to enter the formal rulemaking phase.

Finally, all three speakers encouraged people to get involved. In California, they will be hosting stakeholder meetings; there will be subcommittee and public meetings in Oregon; and a stakeholder meeting will be held as the formal rulemaking process takes place in Colorado. Engage with a PRO or prospective PRO. Set up internal protocol for data estimation and reporting—that includes working with supply chain partners. Colorado’s Circular Action Alliance is hosting producer working groups. Get involved in early stages of program development in your states.


While the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was unable to send a speaker since they are in their formal rulemaking period, a brief overview of Maine EPR laws was given by Gregory Melkonian. Maine’s EPR law applies to packaging material sold/distributed to consumers, and packaged product’s brand owner or importer into the state. Municipalities may participate, including recycling duties, to receive reimbursement. A producer’s fund gives reimbursement to municipalities that manage packaging material (other than disposal), education and infrastructure investments, and administrative costs. Starting in late 2025, Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection opens the RFP process, in 2026 selects a stewardship organization, in 2027 the PRO begins to reimburse participating municipalities, and in 2035, the DEP reopens the SO contract for bids (which will happen every 10 years). Needs Assessment is a one-time requirement for SO. It includes recycling access and availability funding, capacity costs, processing capacity and market conditions, and consumer education. Rulemaking highlights are program goals, determination of readily recyclable materials, fees and reimbursement formulas, and SO investment criteria. Initial rules are under development with comments due to DEP by March 18. Most rules anticipated to be adopted by the end of 2024.

The 2nd session of this webinar series on March 20 at 1pm will cover pulling the data together, introducing the role of the producer responsibility organization (PRO) and how they will help streamline program reporting and fees.

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