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PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY REPORT Picking up Evolving extended producer responsibility rules for packaging are rapidly bringing more recycling costs under the purview of manufacturers and retailers around the world. BY VICTOR BELL the tab E xtended Producer Responsi- bility (EPR) programs, under which producers take respon- sibility for their products and packaging in the postconsumer stage in certain countries, states or provinces, is gaining global traction. The schemes shift some or all of re- sponsibility (a.k.a. cost) for recycling and waste disposal from local govern- ments or municipalities to private in- dustry or the entities that put those products into the market. These entities are the manufacturers, retailers and in some cases distributors, who are required to pay or subsidize the cost to recycle their goods put into cer- tain markets. The idea behind EPR is a good one: to increase the recycling of products and packaging. And it works because the programs often contain mandated recycling targets. As another benefit, EPR also is hav- ing an effect on how companies design and choose materials for their products and product packaging by creating an incentive for them to make products that are easier to recycle. When it comes to product packaging, EPR rules have expanded and evolved in re- cent decades to a far greater level of complexity, and these changes are continuing. What follows is a review of recent trends for EPR when it comes to packag- ing, as well as some examples of newer requirements in specific countries and regions. A GLOBAL HISTORY OF EPR Since the 1990s, an increasing number of countries have implemented EPR pro- grams. While they originated in Western Europe, today there are more than 50 EPR programs for packaging in place in parts of Asia, South America and Cana- da. This major worldwide expansion has included parts of the Middle East, East- ern Europe, South America, Canada, Asia and Russia. Other trends include the use of high- er fees for packaging that is difficult to recycle, more categories of materials and packaging types, more penalties, and for some countries, the addition of printed paper, such as technical manuals or in- structional pamphlets as a material to be included, even though that material isn’t strictly product packaging. One glaring exception, however, is the United States, which has largely had nothing more than bottle deposit programs and/or litter/recycling fees in some states. And while the global state of EPR changed markedly from 2000 to 2015, it changed very little in the U.S. over that same time period. However model legislation for packaging EPR has been released in the U.S. and the idea of November/December 2015 Recycling Today Global Edition 37