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Waste & Recycling Association Opposes Product Stewardship Laws for Paper, Packaging

The National Waste & Recycling Association (Waste & Recycling) is opposing local and state government mandates regarding product stewardship for printed paper and packaging.

“Advocates may promote legislation mandating product stewardship programs for printed paper and packaging as a way to increase recycling rates and make retailers pay for recycling – but these kinds of programs are rife with pitfalls and unintended consequences,” said Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of the Washington-based association in a news release.

“Our industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building, growing and maintaining our nation’s recycling infrastructure and the curbside collection programs that have contributed significantly to Americans’ generally high recycling rates. Meanwhile, we are already generating less paper waste today than ever before, and packaging recycling rates are higher than ever. Complicating these successes through government mandates is a mistake.”

In taking the position, Waste & Recycling said it has several concerns with product stewardship programs for paper and packaging. The programs have not shown that they increase recycling rates; they disrupt successful existing programs; they potentially can violate antitrust law by undercutting fair competition; and they can create higher costs for consumers, among other factors.

“The waste and recycling industry agrees that America’s recycling rates have room for improvement, but mandated product stewardship programs are not the right path,” Kneiss said. “Better options include imposing stronger recycling laws on residents and businesses; increasing the size of curbside recycling carts; encouraging manufacturers to use recycled content; and boosting public education on the importance of recycling.”

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