Extended producer responsibility (EPR), the idea that manufacturers of products and packaging should take responsibility for collecting and recycling the things they make, is a hot topic in the sustainability and business worlds. One EPR bill has passed so far in 2023, Washington State’s SB 5144, which requires battery makers to be responsible for the environmental management of their products. Meet Scott Cassel, founder and CEO of the Product Stewardship Institute, a nonprofit that advocates and consults to develop circular economy solutions and extended producer responsibility legislation. Scott and PSI were key players in the Washington legislation.
A typical concern promoted by companies about proposed EPR laws is the cost to the consumer. However, history shows that, for example, bottle deposit systems improve collection rates substantially. States with bottle bills collect 65% of bottles, while those without collect about 24% — bottle bills more than double collection rates. Columbia University research estimated a maximum increase in monthly grocery bills of $4 per household with robust EPR programs in place. The environmental benefits of EPR are clear, but the economic impact is most impressive. As part of the economy shifts to managing and moving products back to manufacturers for recycling, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that materials moving job jobs will grow by 6.5% by 2031, or about 861,000 new jobs. And as many as 304,000 new repair, maintenance, and waste management jobs are also expected by 2031. The Circular Economy is full of opportunity and the potential to create a more equitable nation. You can learn more about Scott and the Product Stewardship Institute at productstewardship.us.