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Rethinking Recycling in the U.S. Extended Producer Responsibility. Food Industry Association Executives November 14, 2012. Our Company. Purified Water Brand. Regional Spring Water Brands. International Brands. Our Vision.

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rethinking recycling in the u s extended producer responsibility

Rethinking Recycling in the U.S. Extended Producer Responsibility

Food Industry Association Executives

November 14, 2012


Our Company

Purified Water Brand

Regional Spring Water Brands

International Brands


Our Vision

Sustainability from source to bottle, and from “cradle to cradle”

  • How we harvest and monitor water sources
  • How the water is tested and bottled
  • How the bottle is captured and recycled for its next use

The Water’s Edge

  • In 2010, we conducted research to understand the environmental footprint of bottled water and other beverage choices. The findings indicated:
  • Water is the best beverage option for the environment
    • Tap water has the lightest footprint of all beverages examined in this study.
    • Bottled water is the best packaged beverage option for the environment among drinks examined.
    • Consumers can reduce the overall environmental impact associated with drinking a bottle of water by 25% by recycling the bottle after use.
    • Available online at
Our drive to reinvent recycling is rooted in our 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report, where we committed ton increase PET beverage recycling to 60% by 2018.

We want our bottles back

“PET plastic can be recycled and reused almost indefinitely, but in order to do that, we have to get the bottles back.”

Kim Jeffery, NWNA CEO


Recycling in the U.S. Today

  • In 2009, Americans produced about 243 million tons of municipal solid waste, or about 4.3 pounds of waste per person per day.
  • Much of what we’re throwing can be recycled.
  • Recent estimates indicate that the market value of discarded packaging may exceed $20 billion annually… yet
    • Diversion rates are not improving
    • Costs are rising
    • Programs are aging and poorly designed
    • Government budget crises jeopardize the viability of programs

Total MSW Generation 2009 (243MM tons)


Recycling in the U.S. Today

  • The business case for recycling
  • Manufacturers need high quality, low cost material
  • Current systems are not keeping up
  • Collapse in newspapers is imperiling curbside program revenues*
    • Largest source of curbside recycling program revenue
    • Newsprint consumption down 50% in one decade
    • Recovered tonnage down 37.9% since 2006
    • San Antonio: From 50% of net revenues to 33%
    • Frederick County, Md., recycling program costs $6.3 million annually, with revenue at $2.9 million
  • Government respond mandating taxes, fees, retailer take-back schemes, and narrowly-focused “one-off” programs
  • * Source: David Refkin, GreenPath Sustainability Consultants, 11/1/2012

Best if used by: 1982


Extended Producer Responsibility

A policy approach in which a manufacturer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. Also called product stewardship, its goal is to boost the development of waste diversion and recycling programs.


  • Internalized costs
  • Industry management
  • A market-based approach to meet demand for recyclable material


  • Lower net recycling costs
  • Recycling for all types of packaging
  • More private sector investment and employment
  • Mitigated supply chain volatility
  • Valuable material kept in use/reuse
  • Hedge against municipal budget shortages

How it Would Work


  • Government sets the goal
  • Brand owners set up producer responsibility organization (PRO)
  • PRO designs stewardship program
    • Funding, cost assessment, material collection, processing, recycling, governance, education, clear performance standards
    • Existing infrastructure used, when efficient
  • PRO executes program
  • Consumer pays with new product
    • Fees internalized in cost of products
    • Individual companies determine degree to which costs are passed to consumers
  • Government tracks progress


  • Consumers pay hauler or city for recycling service
  • Enterprise fees, utility bill, general taxes
  • Typical household cost = $30-40 per year


  • Designing a uniquely American system
  • Establishing a level-playing field
  • Setting a common definition of sustainable packaging
  • Collecting accurate data before targets are set
  • Ensuring accountability and transparency of costs
  • Maintaining industry/PRO control of funding and programs
  • Designing cost-effective and efficient programs
  • Harmonizing among EPR programs and state laws
  • Supporting all modes of recycling: drop-off, curbside, industrial, commercial, institutional
  • Generating robust public education
  • Recognizing role clarity:  Industry, government, consumer

The Payoff: Benefits of a U.S. EPRModel

  • Consumer convenience from strengthened curbside systems and away-from-home programs
  • Increased education/awareness and enhanced participation
  • A broader approach than isolated take-back mandates, bottle bills, to drive better environmental outcome
  • A reliable consistent supply of recycled materials for re-use
  • New businesses, new jobs
Canada’s first permanent, province-wide beverage container recycling program launched in Manitoba in 2010.

Run by Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association—a voluntary organization supported by beverage companies.

Results to-date (new report pending) :

Created over 100 municipal partnerships

Recruited 65 non-municipal partners

Deployed a total of 2,500 bins

Participated in 115 event days in 2010

Worked cooperatively with Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba to increase beverage container recovery rates in the Blue Box (residential) collection system

Designed a material tracking system (MTS) to gather information on beverage container recovery province-wide.

Case Study: Manitoba, Canada


What EPR is Not…

  • EPR is not a food tax
  • EPR does not require in-store take back
  • Producers do not drive trucks around
  • Government does not control producer fees or determine associated costs, industry does

Where NWNA and the SAIC study agree…

  • Not all EPR is the same
  • EPR’s power to change packaging design is limited
  • EPR should not be a tool for funding government

Where we hope we agree…

  • There is more to learn
  • Conversation needs to continue
  • It is critical to be at the table

What Nestlé Waters is Doing

Recycling Reinvented

  • Engaging stakeholders
    • Manufacturers, retailers, haulers, recyclers, government
  • Listening, learning, measuring, studying
  • Building the business case with peer companies
  • Fostering discussions already under way
  • Partnering on non-EPR recycling pilot programs
  • Sparking dialogue in other places
  • Seeking introduction of state laws in 2013/14


Brian Flaherty, VP, Government Affairs

(203) 863-0125

Michael Washburn, Ph.D., VP, Sustainability

(203) 832-6201