Americans generate more waste than any other country in the world but recycle far less than other developed nations. Post-consumer packaging materials comprise the largest category of solid waste, and U.S. taxpayers pay for its management.

In Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging, As You Sow describes how extended producer responsibility would boost the U.S. packaging recycling rates and transform how recycling is funded.

Extended producer responsibility, or EPR, shifts the responsibility for post-consumer waste from taxpayers and municipal governments to the companies that produce the packaging, creating incentives for producers to reduce the amount of packaging they create, increasing packaging recycling rates, providing revenue to improve recycling systems, and reducing carbon and energy use.

Unfinished Business also features:

    • New research showing that $11 billion of recyclable materials are wasted annually, and how using this resource could generate profits and green jobs
    • Profiles of successfully implemented EPR programs in the U.S. (for beverage containers) and in Canada and Europe (for packaging)
    • A brief history of EPR, including how it would incentivize companies to produce increasingly efficient products and revitalize stagnant U.S. recycling rates
    • A new assessment of the impact wasted packaging has on carbon and ocean pollution

This report supports As You Sow’s pioneering Waste program, which engages major consumer goods, beverage, and electronics companies on sustainable product design and recycling.

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