Thursday, December 13, 2012

PPI-PSI Response to the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)

Product Policy Institute (PPI) and Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) today released a white paper responding to a recent GMA report that concluded that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) should not be applied to packaging, and that government, not themselves, should be responsible for their packaging when consumers are done with it.

The PPI-PSI white paper, Grocery Manufacturers Seek Government Aid to Recycle Their Packaging, identifies four areas in which the GMA report “gets it wrong:”  (1) Limited data, poorly interpreted; (2) False conclusions about cost-effectiveness; (3) Misleading recycling rates; and (4) Premature conclusion on packaging design. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is a trade association representing large consumer packaged goods brands, such as Procter and Gamble, General Mills, Kraft, and Pepsi.  The conclusion of the GMA report is that the recycling collection system status quo, in which local governments and taxpayers pay to collect and sort packaging waste, is viable and only needs some tweaking. America is different, they argue, from the many countries in which EPR for packaging is established policy and has been delivering superior results.  In essence, GMA proposes more government aid and higher taxes to deal with their packaging waste.

What’s wrong with this picture?  The PPI-PSI white paper points out that local governments cannot afford to maintain or expand recycling infrastructure—or do so at the expense of vital services; local governments are not optimal participants in  a global commodity supply system; and internalizing recycling costs in products and packaging is inherently fairer than taxpayer-funded recycling.

The PPI-PSI paper concludes:  
“An underperforming recycling system is a long-term threat to U.S. consumer packaged goods companies. Many companies have made sustainability or sustainable packaging statements; however, what is often missing is the articulation of strategic or tactical plans to achieve the stated goals. Rather than fighting what its members already do in 47 other countries, companies could work to create superior producer-led EPR systems in the U.S., develop predictable supplies of raw materials, and earn positive public recognition from assuming this level of corporate social responsibility.   Those companies within GMA that eventually come to the realization that EPR may deliver benefits toward their sustainability goals might start to question their trade organization’s opposition.”

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