An extended producer responsibility (EPR) resolution presented to the Chicopee City Council, MA, proposed transferring responsibility for product and packaging disposal costs from local towns to brand owners and importers. Although the resolution suggested that electronic waste would be the initial focus of any implemented EPR program in Massachusetts, it also included packaging in its mandate.
According to a statement from Kim Guarnaccia, director of marketing and communications at the Paperboard Packaging Council, this EPR resolution was unanimously rejected by the council after they hearing Jeff Shinners', president of Pioneer Packaging and a member of the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), arguments against the proposal.
Shinners reportedly supports the basic tenets of EPR, but he and other local businesspeople opposed this resolution because it did not exempt paperboard packaging, which is already recycled at a high rate. "Our voluntary recycling program for paper-based packaging already works incredibly well so [paperboard packaging] should be exempt from the proposed EPR program," explains Shinners. "I say this because the potentially expensive cost of managing and administering a complex EPR program will far outweigh the minor benefits of a point or two increase in paper recycling, an increase that will be achieved soon enough with our existing voluntary recycling program."
There is also a concern that EPR programs will adversely affect businesses. "Any added cost for recovering recycled paper and board will no doubt be passed on to those who purchase paper-namely, packaging companies such as mine," says Shinners. He then added, "In these tough economic times, brand owners will resist increasing their prices, opting instead to pass the financial burden of EPR fees onto their suppliers, such as packaging companies. Adding unnecessary fees to the cost of doing business will make a company such as mine less competitive and may cost both my firm and the city jobs."
Both Shinners and Guarnaccia met with business leaders at the Chicopee City Hall in Chicopee, MA to oppose the resolution. To support its argument that paperboard packaging is one of the few success stories around, PPC cites research conducted in 2010 by the research firm R.W. Beck that 92 percent of all Massachusetts residents have access to curbside recycling. The study also found that last year, a record-high 63 percent of paper and paperboard was recovered for recycling in the U.S., an average of 334 lbs for each man, woman and child. In fact, by 2020, the American Forest and Paper Association has set a voluntary recycling goal for paper of more than 70 percent
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