Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Policy and Law
- California Product Stewardship Laws
- Implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in California
- EPR Around the World: Canada, European Union, Other Countries, and United States
A few current laws fit the basic definition of producer responsibility, meaning that producers, not the general public or ratepayers, cover the costs of recycling and disposal. These producer responsibility laws are noted below:
- Carpet - Chapter 681, Statutes of 2010 (Perez, AB 2398) sets forth the requirements of the statewide Carpet Stewardship Program to ensure that discarded carpets become a resource for new products.
- Paint - Chapter 420, Statutes of 2010 (Huffman, AB 1343) establishes requirements of the statewide Paint Recovery Program to ensure that leftover paint is properly managed in a manner that is sustainably funded.
- Mercury Thermostats - AB 2347, the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008, provides for producer responsibility, similar to what was intended in CalRecycle’s EPR Framework. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control is the lead agency for implementing this law.
- Product Recall - AB 1860, the Product Recall Safety and Protection Act of 2008, which makes producers responsible for the return of unsafe products at no cost to consumers or retailers; and
- Pesticide Container - SB 1723, covering pesticide container recycling (PDF, file size unknown), and signed into law in 2008, requires first sellers using certain pesticide containers to demonstrate participation in a certified high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pesticide container recycling program and annually to submit certifying documents to the director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
- AB 32, Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (PDF, 183 KB), a regulation covering small containers of auto refrigerant became law October 1, 2009. The law covers R-134a, a compound used to recharge automobile air-conditioning systems and a potent greenhouse gas. It requires a new industry-run container deposit and recycling program to ensure the recovery of refrigerant remaining in a used can and a manufacturer-developed education program so consumers can use the best techniques for recharging an air conditioner.
Additionally, there are numerous California laws that apply to products such as electronic waste, motor oil, pharmaceuticals, sharps, and tires. Some of these laws contain elements to reduce the environmental impacts of products ranging from requirements to reduce harmful substances to requiring manufacturers or retailers to take back products from consumers after their use. They are not considered EPR programs if they require large expenditures of public resources.
Each year new bills are introduced through the state’s legislative process. CalRecycle maintains a list of priority bills covering a wide variety of topics, some related to product- or material-specific bills.
Implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in California
In February 2007 the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB, now CalRecycle) adopted a set of Strategic Directives that reflected the Board's purpose, vision, and core values. Strategic Directive 5: Producer Responsibility states that it is a core value of the Board that producers, sometimes referred to as manufacturers, assume the responsibility for the safe stewardship of their materials in order to promote environmental sustainability. Further, sub-directive 5.2 states that CIWMB will seek statutory authority to foster "cradle-to-cradle" producer responsibility.
CIWMB adopted the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Framework (PDF, 106 KB) as a policy priority in September 2007 and approved refinements in January 2008. As CalRecycle policy, the Framework sets out broad guidance to be used in the development of EPR legislation.
Derived from the EPR Framework, this checklist (PDF, 382 KB) can assist in the development of new legislation by ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of key components necessary to effectively implement EPR programs.
The EPR Framework, if enacted legislatively, would provide CalRecycle with broad authority to establish overall product stewardship program requirements and procedures such as:
- Establishing product selection procedures and selecting product categories;
- Requiring producers of selected categories to work with retailers, haulers, local jurisdictions, and other stakeholders, as appropriate, and develop and implement plans to address the targeted products;
- Specifying what provisions must be addressed in each plan, such as goals, fee or cost structures, administration, reporting, etc.;
- Specifying enforcement mechanisms such as penalty procedures and provisions for non-compliance to create a level playing field for competitive markets.
Such requirements and procedures would be established through the public process of regulation development following the enactment of authorizing legislation.
A guiding principle in the CalRecycle-adopted EPR Framework is that new programs should not dismantle existing programs that are determined to be effective. Instead, efforts should be made to harmonize policies and programs. Likewise new EPR programs would not preclude the implementation or expansion of existing programs. Consequently, existing laws would continue to be enforced as written unless there is a desire to statutorily bring them under the proposed EPR Framework. Harmonization is commonly sought for key definitions and a measurement metrics to facilitate implementation for stakeholders and better allow comparisons and opportunities for improvement among EPR programs.
EPR is being implemented in many places throughout the world. Each program is slightly different, but with the common theme of requiring the producer of a product to assume greater responsibility for managing its product at the end of its useful life. Among EPR programs, there is a range in the degree that manufacturers assume responsibility for end-of-life product management as compared to others in the product chain such as retailers, consumers, local governments, haulers and recyclers. The information below refers to a few of the programs currently implementing some type of EPR program along with links to their legislation. Some programs provide information on economic impacts.
Description: Canada has years of experience implementing EPR at the national and provincial level utilizing a variety of approaches. There is no national EPR authorizing legislation in Canada; instead, each province or territory is able to implement or pass its own authorizing legislation and regulations. Nearly all provinces and territories have their own programs and authorizing legislation. Additionally, there are some national programs that relate to packaging, rechargeable batteries, and pesticide containers, to name a few.
Policies at the national level:
- Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility, approved in principle, October 29, 2009
- Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging, approved in principle, October 29, 2009 (PDF, file size unknown)
- Canada-wide principles for extended producer responsibility, endorsed by CMME, June 2007 (PDF, file size unknown)
Examples from selected province--British Columbia:
- British Columbia Environmental Management Act (authorizing legislation).
- British Columbia Recycling Regulation (EPR regulations).
- Environment Canada--Canada's national agency responsible for environmental issues, has information about broad EPR topics throughout Canada.
- Overview of Provincial and Territorial EPR Programs has a comprehensive listing of EPR programs throughout Canada, including details such as what products they target, their supporting framework, or legal basis, and key responsibilities by stakeholder group.
- The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is comprised of Canada's environment ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments for the purpose of protecting Canada's environment. CCME provides guidance on the development and implementation of EPR and product stewardship programs.
Description: EPR is widely used in Europe as a means of preventing pollution and minimizing waste. The European Union (EU) possesses the authority to issue legislative acts known as directives and each member state must "transpose" or create its own laws, if necessary, in order to implement these directives. The EU has issued a number of directives aimed at increasing producer responsibility across Europe Including:
- Packaging and Packaging Waste
- End of Life Vehicle (ELV)
- Restriction of Hazardous Substances (PDF, file size unknown)
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
- Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
Examples from selected member states:
- Environment Agency Producer Responsibility describes producer responsibility programs.
Description: There is no federal law governing EPR or product stewardship in the United States. In the absence of federal statute, each state may choose to implement its own policies and laws. Similarly, local government at the city and county level has, in some cases, taken steps to implement EPR by passing local resolutions and ordinances.
Examples from Across the United States
The Product Stewardship Institute maintains information on product stewardship efforts, which includes state policy and legislation (see "initiatives"), covering a variety of products including carpet, electronics, fluorescent lighting, gas cylinders, medical sharps, mercury products, paint, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, phone books, radioactive devices, thermostats, and tires. This website has a list of EPR laws and pending legislation.
- The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) Product Stewardship Task Force developed the Product Stewardship Framework Policy Document (PDF, file size unknown) to identify many of the key issues associated with the development of product stewardship policies at the State level. The analysis and development of policy options is based on individual States’ consideration of individual products as well as comprehensive product stewardship policies and is intended to provide guidance as States grapple with reducing the environmental impact of products.
- In March 2010, Maine became the first state in the nation to enact framework product stewardship legislation. LD 1631 garnered unanimous bi-partisan support. According to Matt Prindiville, Clean Production Project Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, "This law establishes a process for the state to systematically evaluate and establish product stewardship programs for hard-to-recycle products and packaging. It also reviews existing product stewardship programs to ensure that they are working for Maine people and businesses." According to Chris Jackson, Senior Governmental Affairs Specialist for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, “This new framework ensures lots of opportunity for input from the business community and provides some predictability and focus to the state’s product stewardship initiatives. We would like to thank Rep. Innes for her willingness to work with the Chamber and other members of the business community to ensure a better outcome of the legislation.”