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Trends in Packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – A Retailer’s Perspective

Around the world, consumers, governments, and companies increasingly recognize that humankind is producing too much waste and facing challenges around the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste.

Man loading groceries into trunk

Around the world, consumers, governments, and companies increasingly recognize that humankind is producing too much waste and facing challenges around the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste. Because of this, countries are actively seeking solutions to reduce waste and limit harmful substances from entering the environment. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is one solution being increasingly proposed by governments but along with this comes additional challenges and considerations for retailers.

EPR shifts responsibility from taxpayers to producers for the full lifespan of obligated materials and products.

EPR includes a wide variety of products and product categories, including packaging, and may involve physical and/or financial obligations that have major implications for the industry. Since its inception in Europe in the 1990s, EPR has undergone several iterations and is constantly being refined and adopted in countries around the world. What was forward-thinking at the time is now becoming the baseline for waste reduction along with circular economy principles, where materials are kept in use for as long as possible through recycling, refurbishing, and/or repurposing.

UL and the Retail Council of Canada have together prepared this white paper to help retailers understand the evolving packaging and printed paper EPR landscape and learnings from well-established EPR programs around the globe.

This white paper focuses on:

  • Concepts involved in packaging EPR
  • Proposed and implemented packaging EPR regulations in Canada
  • Proposed packaging EPR regulations in the US and regulations implemented in the EU
  • Retailer commitments in response to EPR programs and consumer concern
  • Key policy aspects of packaging EPR
  • Lessons learned by retailers from Canada’s implementation of packaging EPR over the last 20+ years

Learn more about how UL WERCSmart collects packaging EPR data from the supply chain.

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