Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has signed into law the Environment and Natural Resources Supplemental Budget Bill, which includes separate statewide extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging and boat wrap. Minnesota is now the fifth state in the country to enact EPR for packaging, following Oregon and Maine (2021) and Colorado and California (2022), and is the first in the nation to enact EPR for boat wrap.  

Minnesota’s bill (HF 3911 / SF 3877) was championed by Representative Rick Hansen and Senator Foung Hawj and was supported by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MCPA). Before its inclusion in the state’s omnibus bill, the packaging EPR bill was originally sponsored by Senator Kelly Morrison and Representative Sydney Jordan. Senator Morrison also co-sponsored the boat wrap EPR bill with Representative Larry Kraft.

Minnesota’s new packaging EPR program requires producers selling packaging, paper products, and food service packaging into the state to financially support the statewide improvement and expansion of recycling programs. The law seeks to reduce the impacts of waste on the environment and human health, keep plastics out of rivers and waterways, and address the inequitable impacts of waste on vulnerable communities.

 In Fall 2021, the Partnership on Waste and Energy (PWE), a Minnesota joint powers authority comprised of Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties, hired PSI to assist in developing the initial Minnesota packaging bill. PSI used its updated packaging EPR policy model as the basis for facilitated stakeholder agreements that became the basis for subsequent conversations that led to the final bill.

 PWE, which was the lead advocate for the packaging EPR bill, was staffed by PSI members Mallory Anderson (Hennepin County) and Dan Donkers (Ramsey County), who worked for nearly three years on the bill to ultimately achieve success. In line with PSI’s decades-long approach, the resulting law is an example of significant progress achieved in the present that transitions to even further progress in the future. Under the new law, brand owners are required to pay 50% of the residential recycling cost, starting July 1, 2029, increasing to 75% in 2030, and to 90% by July 1, 2031.

The law requires the producers to fund, and the state to conduct, a needs assessment by December 31, 2026, which will inform program implementation. The law also requires MPCA to hire a consultant to conduct two studies by January 1, 2032 – one on workplace conditions and equity in Minnesota’s recycling, composting, and reuse facilities, and a second study to determine the contribution of covered products to litter and water pollution.  

The Supplemental Budget Bill also establishes a first-in-the-nation EPR program for boat wrap. Minnesota leads the nation in boats per capita, with roughly 14,500 vessels per 100,000 population. Every winter, 180,000 to 300,000 boats must be winterized to survive the harsh Minnesota winters, but protecting these boats requires wrapping them in millions of pounds of plastic film, most of which is landfilled in the spring. The new EPR program requires producers of boat wrap to fund and manage a statewide product stewardship program that reduces landfill disposal and promotes boat wrap recycling. Producers must submit stewardship plans by March 1, 2025 for MCPA review.

For more information, visit www.productstewardship.us.