A recent study by EPA found that only about 9% of municipal solid-waste plastic was recycled while a staggering 76% was sent to landfills in the USA. This prompted IAFNS to support a new study of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recycling policies. EPR is a policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle.

Adoption of EPR policies can coordinate responses to high collection costs, sorting complexity, inconsistent feedstocks, and unknown contamination leading to safety considerations.

Countries in Europe that have adopted EPR policies tend to have more effective and comprehensive recycling programs, according to a new study out of Iowa State University.

This important work builds on previous IAFNS Food Packaging Safety & Sustainability Committee efforts to research plastic recycling, for example through the re-use of polypropylene. The committee’s ongoing research focus on how to optimize plastic recycling for food contact applications has been and remains strong.