NWRA released its policy position on extended producer responsibility (EPR). Challenges with recycling have resulted in increased efforts to pass legislation at both the federal and state level advocating for EPR. While well intentioned, many of these bill fail to address the root of the problems and also overlook existing recycling programs and their achievements.
NWRA identified five significant issues currently facing recycling:
- Insufficient demand for some recyclables
- Low prices for the combined recycling stream
- Consumer behavior challenges
- Public concern over plastic in the environment
- Inexpensive virgin resources
“Americans want accessible and effective recycling. They want sustainable products that support the circular economy,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “NWRA prefers efforts focused on increasing demand for recyclable materials to allow market forces to incentivize recycling. Increased use of post-consumer content is essential to increase demand.”
The last 25 years of legislative history on recycling has been focused primarily on creating supply—without consideration of adequate end markets. Given that, our recycling system has been set up to continuously generate material even when demand falls and prices drop. Any legislation that proposes to address recycling issues needs to first focus on correcting this problem by incentivizing the demand for recyclables, rather than continuing to focus only on adding supply.