FPA Opposes Tennessee EPR Bill as Currently Written

The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) is opposing a new extended producer responsibility (EPR) initiative in Tennessee as the proposal is currently written.

The bill, TN Senate Bill (SB) 573, directs the state Department of Environment and Conservation to establish an EPR program, which FPA finds to be concerning for several reasons, including the overall costs of the proposals to producers, according to written testimony by John J. Richard, FPA’s director of government affairs.

“SB 573 requires reimbursement of 100% of the ‘reasonable costs’ associated with collection, transportation, processing, and recycling of covered materials,” Richard writes.

“While FPA’s members are wholly committed to addressing plastic pollution, asking producers to potentially pay for Tennessee’s recycling system in full with no maximum payment threshold and no final determination of what is a ‘reasonable cost’ may undermine the long-term success of the EPR program. It is likely also to lead to unintended policy consequences along the waste supply chain.”

Richard notes that FPA and its members support well-crafted EPR, and numerous options are needed to address the lack of infrastructure for recycling.

“In fact, FPA worked with the Product Stewardship Institute and jointly drafted a set of principles to guide EPR for flexible packaging,” he writes as a matter of background. “The dialogue looked at the problems and opportunities for EPR to address the needs of the flexible packaging industry to reach full circularity.”

However, he suggests the Tennessee proposal has several other problems, including the definitions of producers and antitrust concerns with the producer responsibility organization. He also says litter issues should be addressed under separate legislation.