Improve Our Recycling Systems

Improve Our Recycling Systems

The U.S. needs broad sweeping change in its recycling systems.

Despite billions of dollars of investment in the U.S., recycling levels have not improved in 20 years. Only 5% of all plastic waste is recycled in the U.S.

We must solve this issue. A federal recycling policy called extended producer responsibility (EPR) can help ensure we’re all involved. Suppliers, producers, distributors and sellers would work together to ensure that all discarded products and packaging are recovered, recycled and reused.

A Deeper Dive into Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
In the U.S., recycling is not organized at the federal level but at the state and municipal levels. This leads to confusion about what and how to recycle.

EPR helps set a federal recycling standard, increasing efficiencies across states while increasing the amount of plastic recycling. 

EPR programs can correct the broken aspects of our recycling system by funding the proper processing of recycled materials to feed them back into new products.
Core Principles of EPR

Producers must bear the costs of expanding and improving recycling infrastructure, but new producer contributions should not be diverted to other uses.

New Funds

New funds should help pay for consumer outreach and public education activities.


Eco-modulation, a policy component that incentivizes producers to create products with recycled content, is needed to drive sustainable innovation in product and packaging design.


Producers that use recycled content may be charged lower fees or get a credit; producers are penalized for not using recycled content; there must be disincentives for use of virgin materials.

Minimum Standards

Minimum standards are needed for incorporating recycled content.

Compliance Obligations

Producers should be able to work with PROs to meet compliance obligations.

Phased Approach

EPR policies should be phased-in to give the program time to work, facilitate innovation and assess effectiveness.