Issue Area

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)


Approximately 33% of what consumers throw in their trash each year is composed of product packaging. China’s recent and abrupt end to accepting these materials from the U.S. has left many large municipalities with increased costs and no end-market. 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs put the responsibility for the end-of-life management of plastic packing on the manufacturers and brand owners, shifting the financial and physical burden upstream and away from the public sector or taxpayers. EPR for packaging is used in the European Union, Canada, and has passed in four U.S. states. These countries and jurisdictions have committed to help municipalities alleviate financial and physical collection burdens.

Learn more about Plastic Pollution
NCEL Point of Contact
Julia Meltzer

Zero Waste Coordinator

Key Facts

In 2021, only 5% of the 51 million plastic waste that is generated each year was recycled. 95% of plastics are eventually landfilled or pollute our water and air.

The U.S. is estimated to recycle only 50% of consumer packaging, whereas Belgium and British Columbia, both with EPR for packaging laws, boast an 80% recycling rate of the same materials.

An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enters the marine environment every year mostly through land-based sources.


NCEL Resources

Success Story

Plastic Pollution and the EPR Legislator Network

February 1, 2021


Plastic Pollution in the US and Extended Producer Responsibility

June 15, 2021

Online Resources

Consumer Goods Forum: Building a Circular Economy for Packaging

View an overview from the Consumer Goods Industry on optimal extended producer responsibility

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EPR Frequently Asked Questions

View frequently asked questions about EPR for packaging and paper products

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EPR for Packaging & Paper Products White Paper

View a white paper on EPR for packaging & paper products from the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA)

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Highlighting Our Successes