California, Colorado Pass EPR Laws to Fund and Improve Package Recycling
In June, California and Colorado enacted extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws — following Maine and Oregon in 2021 — that will require brand owners and others to pay for the recycling of their products. One of the key differences between the two state regulations is that Colorado will impose fees on consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, while California will levy a surcharge on both CPG companies and makers of plastic resins.
California EPR Law
According to industry observers, California's EPR legislation is the most stringent in the U.S., and it will have ramifications beyond the state. The new law creates an extended producer responsibility organization (PRO) and program to compel CPG companies and plastic resin manufacturers to pay for improvements in package recycling and plastic pollution mitigation.
The legislation establishes timelines for the creation of the PRO, graduated recycling rates for plastics and other types of single-use packaging, reductions in single-use plastics through the elimination of plastic packaging or switching to reuse and refill systems, and a target for packaging to be either recyclable or compostable.
Exemptions to the EPR legislation include PET beverages (covered by the state's bottle law), medical products and prescription drugs, medical foods, infant formula, and hazardous materials. Companies (producers, wholesalers, and retailers) with less than $1 millon gross sales per year in the state are also exempt.
Key Date: January 1, 2024
California producers of the covered packaging materials must form and join an extended producer responsibility organization (PRO).
Key Date: 2027 to 2037
The PRO will collect $500 million per year from CPG companies for a plastic pollution mitigation fund and is also authorized to collect up to $150 million from plastic resin manufacturers.
Key Date: January 1, 2028
30% of plastics and other types of single-use packaging must be recycled.
Key Date: January 1, 2030
40% of plastics and other types of single-use packaging must be recycled.
Key Date: January 1, 2032
65% of plastics and other types of single-use packaging must be recycled.
Key Date: January 1, 2032
All plastics and other types of single-use packaging are required to be either recyclable or compostable.
Key Date: January 1, 2032
A 25% reduction in single-use plastics. This will be phased in with a 10% reduction by January 1, 2027 and 20% reduction by January 1, 2030. Achieving part of these reductions will require the elimination of plastic packaging or switching to reuse and refill systems.
Colorado EPR Law
Colorado's EPR legislation will require CPG companies to pay annual dues to fully fund a statewide recycling program for packaging. The dues will be based on the type and volume of packaging sold and distributed in the state.
Companies with annual revenues of less than $5 million are exempt from the legislation. Other exemptions include companies that have used less than one ton of the covered packaging materials in the prior calendar year. Some pharmaceutical products are also exempt.
Proponents of the legislation view it as a means to increase Colorado's 15% combined recycling and composting rate (which is half the U.S. national average) and extend recycling services to rural communities. Several large CPG companies support the legislation, including The Coca-Cola Co., Danone North America, Unilever United States, SC Johnson, PepsiCo, Reckitt, Mars, and L’Oréal USA.
Key Date: June 1, 2023
The executive director of the Colorado department of public health and environment must designate a nonprofit organization to implement and manage a statewide recycling program.
Key Date: September 21, 2023
The organization must hire an independent third party to conduct a needs assessment of the state's recycling services.
Key Date: April 1, 2024
The organization must report the results of the needs assessment.
Key Date: February 1, 2025
After soliciting input from an advisory board and other key stakeholders, the organization must submit a plan proposal for the statewide recycling program.
Key Date: July 1, 2025
A producer (CPG brand owner) may not sell or distribute any products that use the covered packaging materials in the state unless the producer is participating in the program. CPG companies also have the option to submit their own individual program plan proposal to the advisory board by January 1, 2025, and must notify the department of their intent to submit the proposal by January 1, 2024.
One element of EPR is eco-modulation, which bases producers' fees on the environmental impact of their packaging. In general, producers will pay higher fees or penalties for harder-to-recycle, hazardous, or environmentally harmful materials, while lower fees will be levied on packaging that is recyclable, minimally designed, lightweight, renewably sourced, made with recycled content, refillable, reusable, returnable, or has a reduced environmental impact.
Sustainable Packaging Solutions
Berlin Packaging helps our customers understand EPR, and provides cost-effective strategies to minimize eco-modulation fees.
We build our sustainable packaging strategies around three core pillars:
The use of recycled and recyclable materials as well as alternative options.
The reduction or elimination of packaging components as well as improving product shelf life and performance.
The use of at-home, in-store, and on-the-go refill and reuse systems and returnable packaging programs.
Our holistic approach combines deep subject matter expertise with practical commercial experience to create circular strategies that will strengthen your brand and grow your bottom line. For more details and case studies, download and read our Sustainability Brochure.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney. It is the customer’s responsibility to determine whether its filled product is subject to any applicable government regulations and to ensure compliance with such regulations.