The Product Policy Institute (PPI), an Overbrook environment program grantee, is highlighted in a recent article by Jim Motavalli in E- The Environmental Magazine. Based in Athens, Georgia, PPI works on building Product Stewardship Councils all over the U.S., where Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has largely been the purview of a network of state and local institutions rather than an initiative of the federal government. The central principle of EPR, as described by PPI executive director Bill Sheehan in an E-Magazine interview, is that "...those who design, market and use products and packaging -- producers and consumers -- should pay for all of the environmental management costs."
The worry now, as EPR gains ground legislatively, is that new laws will tip their hats to EPR but will be watered down, providing major concessions for large corporations that don't want to pay for the recovery and reuse of their own products. A push toward single stream recycling, for instance, could be easy for producers yet yield diminished recovery and recycling rates of glass, plastic, paper and electronics.
In this complex materials web, one thing is certain: it will not be easy to please everyone and pass a federal EPR law. But PPI is doing great work to move the U.S. forward toward zero-waste. Read the E-Magazine article here for a more detailed explanation of EPR principles, and Bill Sheehan's interview here for a deeper look into the brains behind the Product Policy Institute.