Why is America Throwing Away $11.4 Billion a Year?

In an article written for Forbes, journalist Amy Westervelt explores the phenomenon known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), a model which encourages producers to take control of the recycling process their packaging must undergo. While some big businesses support the model, not all plastic packaging companies are on board. Westervelt writes that the value of discarded packaging in the USA in 2010 reached a total of $11.4 billion, a staggering figure that has profound economic implications. If this is the case, Westervelt asks:

So what’s the issue? Primarily cost and time, neither of which the grocery manufacturers feel they should be spending on this issue. “These companies are reluctant to admit they have any responsibility to deal with post-consumer packaging waste because it has always been tax payers paying for it in this country,” Mackerron says. “In 40 to 50 other countries they’re forced to pay fees – they have to shoulder at least a portion of the cost, if not the total – so they’re responsible there but not here. Particularly for the American companies that’s embarrassing. They’re not taking responsibility at home, but they’re paying up abroad.”

The article explores the relationship between businesses and the waste their products create, and highlights some of the inadequacies with the current system's mode of operating. To read the full article, please see the story on Forbes here.

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