On August 6, 2021, Oregon became the second state to impose Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requirements on producers of printed paper, packaging, and food service ware. The law, Senate Bill 582, titled Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act. Oregon has now joined Maine who passed a similar EPR law on July 12, 2021.
Under the new law, most brand owners selling packaging, paper products and food service ware into Oregon, called producers, will be required to join producer responsibility organization (PRO) and pay fees for their printed paper and packaging. The fees will be used to support the improvement and expansion of recycling programs and infrastructure statewide. Local governments will be able to use the fees for improvements such as recycling facility upgrades, increased collection services, certain transportation needs, and contamination reduction programs. The PRO will need to submit an EPR plan to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by March 31, 2024 and begin implementing the plan by July 1, 2025.
The Oregon law differs from Maine’s in that consumer brand payments will cover roughly one-quarter of the costs of the recycling system. Maine’s law requires producers to pay for all recycling costs, while Oregon’s law will not pay the costs for collection. In Oregon, collection costs will continue to be paid for by residential and commercial ratepayers. Local authorities will maintain operational control for collection services and public education programs. Producer funding will enable improvements such as recycling facility upgrades, broader collection services and more accessible educational resources.
The fees will be modified or “eco-modulated” based on factors such as recyclability, use of postconsumer recycled content, product-to-package ration, material composition, and the life cycle impacts of the materials they use. The largest producers also will be required to perform lifecycle assessments on one percent of their products every two years. A large producer is one that is among the 25 largest producers of covered products based on market share.
The new law will create a uniform statewide collection list and expand recycling access to multifamily housing and those living in rural and remote communities. A new multistakeholder group, known as the Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council, will advise the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and stewardship organizations on key elements of the new program, including producer implementation plans.
Oregon DEQ will conduct regular studies on access to recycling and enacting new permitting and certification requirements for processors to provide living wages and benefits for their employees. Recycling processing facilities will be required to meet new performance standards for material quality, reporting, and working with PROs ensure that collected materials reach socially and environmentally responsible end markets. The costs of meeting these new standards will also be offset by the fees.
The Oregon and Maine laws, and similar proposed laws in at least 12 additional states, signal a major policy change that shifts the costs for management of the products we create and consume.
For more information, visit Oregon’s DEQ Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act webpage. You can also contact Marci Kinter at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Jones at email@example.com.