Legislation in California

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:

  • 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.
  • Pesticide Container: SB 1723, covering pesticide container recycling, 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.
  • Paint: Public Resources Code Section 48700--48706 establishes requirements of the statewide Paint Stewardship Program to ensure that leftover paint is properly managed in a manner that is sustainably funded.
  • 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.
  • Mattresses: SB 254, the passage of the California Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act aims to reduce illegal dumping, increase recycling, and substantially reduce public agency costs for the end-of-use management of used mattresses.

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, i.e., AB 32, Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which includes a regulation covering small containers of auto refrigerant, to requiring manufacturers or retailers to take back products from consumers after their use, the Product Recall Safety and Protection Act of 2008, AB 1860. 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 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 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.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Around the World

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:

Examples from selected province--British Columbia:


European Union

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:

Examples from selected member states:

Other Countries

United States

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 policies and resolutions.

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.