Extended Producer Responsibility
In 1970, when recycling started, how recycling was set up made it the consumer’s problem with what to do with empty but yet recyclable materials. Because of this, cities and municipalities started the recycling programs that we still use today.
However, there are some changes that are now coming for who is responsible for the packaging that is related to any given product you might purchase. Recently, many companies and the different government entities have been talking about something called EPR which stands for Extended Producer Responsibility. EPR, if passed, will make it the responsibility of the producer of the packaging to figure out how to take it back from the consumers.
Along with this, larger companies that sell us things like milk, pop, crackers, frozen pizza and the like are also working on making all of their packaging (think about that plastic pop bottle or cereal box) to a certain degree made from recycled materials. You may see some small note on the container promoting that the packaging was made from 50% recycled content, as an example.
There are a few companies that have already been working on this. Cardboard that is recycled is generally always turned back into cardboard again. Paper is often turned into toilet tissue or Kleenex or other paper products. A favorite of mine is aluminum pop cans which are often turned back into aluminum pop cans plus they are back on the shelf as that new pop can within just a short 60 days after recycling. Aluminum pop cans are also being made into other products that are being used on spaceships. The aluminum pop can you recycle today could very well be on Mars in the near future in the form of a spaceship.
The biggest problem we face today when it comes to recycling is that there are only so many product packages that can be recycled. If we are aware of what packaging can be recycled and purchase those items first before other items that have packaging that cannot be recycled, it will help lower how much trash we are sending to the landfill
Consumers need to be choosy about what we are purchasing and making sure any given item lasts a long time. Consumers also must start to think about how they are going to lower the amount of trash each is sending to the landfill each week. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has guidelines that by 2030, consumers must reduce their waste by 75%. A good analogy is if you have four bags of trash from your home each week, you can only dispose of one of the trash bags. So what happens to the other three bags of trash? This is an example of the need to reduce waste (trash) in our lives.
This is why getting ready for the future of trash disposal is so important. We can no longer throw away things into the landfill, thinking we have all the space we need to safely keep our trash. Consumers need to start thinking about our future purchases and what we can all do to lower our impact. Manufacturers, as well as those companies who provide packaging, must also help with this same cause. Consumers cannot do it alone.
Consumers whether we are at home, work, or if we run a business need to start doing what each of us can to stop wasting materials, supplies, food, and much more. We don’t need to make big changes in our lives but work on small changes then do it a little at a time.
For more information on how to properly dispose of items, recycling, or reducing waste, please go to our website at www.lyonco.org or give us a call at (507) 532-8210.