Some consumer goods companies are signaling through trade groups that they are open to the possibility of paying to manage their discarded packaging.
As problems mount in recycling of municipal solid waste, lawmakers and others are looking to systems that have been long established in Europe and elsewhere, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sometimes described as “polluter pays,” these systems charge fees to consumer goods companies to allay the costs of recycling or otherwise disposing of their product packaging.
Such programs have proven their effectiveness. In Germany, where “polluter pays” has been the policy since the 1990s, the recycling rate is 67%, compared to about 25% for America.
The CPG industry has long been opposed to such programs, but the Journal reports that its resistance may be softening. Both the Consumer Brands Association and Ameripen, a lobby group set up about a decade ago by leading CPG companies on this issue, have come out in favor of industry funding for recycling programs.
Recycling has been under pressure from various factors. China stopped accepting imports of discarded packaging in 2018, dealing a major blow to the market for recyclables. The pandemic has accelerated the use of single-serve packages, which are usually harder to recycle than larger ones.