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Dialogue on Sustainable Financing of Recycling: Consumer Packaging

The Dialogue on Sustainable Financing of Recycling of Packaging at the Municipal Level was a multi-stakeholder, cross-sector dialogue convened by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the request of several state government agencies and other organizations:

In convening this dialogue, EPA provided a unique opportunity for these key stakeholders to collaborate on addressing the challenges presented by the recovery of packaging materials in the municipal waste stream. This has opened the door for future progress among diverse stakeholders who had not previously worked collectively together to address these important issues.

Scope and Objectives

The dialogue focused on packaging and printed materials found in the municipal waste stream from households, businesses, institutions, and locations away from home. Long-term goals included:

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The dialogue convened a representative group of key stakeholders: ten consumer packaged goods companies, two retailers, seven state governments, five local governments, and six non-governmental organizations. This configuration was intended to ensure the inclusion of perspectives from brand owners associated with the majority of packaging used for products consumed in the home; national retail chains that sell their own private label products; states with different geography, population diversity and deposit laws; and a broad range of experience domestically and internationally with diverse approaches to financing for recycling.

Dialogue Process

EPA hired a facilitator to interview all of the participants prior to the first meeting and develop an Issue Assessment (PDF) (20 pp, 119K). The process included four in-person meetings, and intensive workgroup activity to develop substantive drafts for deliberation by the full participant group. Participants also spent time developing a shared base of knowledge through webinars on specific topics, cross-sector learning through question-and-answer exercises between brand owners and public sector participants, and a mapping exercise to understand the basic components and their relative strengths and challenges within the current system.

To further set the stage for optimizing the existing system and analyzing potential financing strategies, participants discussed the characteristics and objectives of an effective recycling system for packaging and printed material, and also developed criteria for evaluating financing strategies. Eight potential optimization projects were identified as strategies for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing recycling system, to meet the characteristics of success that the group discussed. If implemented, these strategies have the potential to meaningfully improve current recycling systems and increase recycling rates through collaborative initiatives conceived of and moved forward by the public and private sectors. This collaboration between state/local government and the packaging industry is unprecedented and would not have happened had it not been for the EPA convening this unique, timely and controversial dialogue.

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Meeting Schedule and Materials

Meeting Summaries

Webinar Presentations

The views expressed are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the EPA and should not be construed as implying EPA consent or endorsement.
Webinar 1
Webinar 2
Webinar 3
Webinar 4
Webinar 5

Continuing Stakeholder Discussion

On August 11 and 12, 2011, EPA convened a related dialogue, inviting representatives of the industries that make packages and packaging materials (glass, paper, plastics and metals), state and local governments, and NGOs to discuss increasing the recovery of packaging from municipal solid waste, and sustainable financing of municipal recycling systems.

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