Measure would hold producers responsible for plastic packaging

  • Lowen

Rep. Nicole Lowen Monday joined legislators from nine states in announcing a coordinated effort to hold producers responsible for the end-of-life management of plastic packaging.

Participating states include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Each of these legislators are introducing extended producer responsibility bills or introducing legislation as part of a long-term plan to get there.


Lowen (D-North Kona) has introduced House Bill 1316 to require producers of packaging waste be responsible for the end-of-life management of their products in a way that ensures minimal social and environmental impacts.

Current estimates show that the United States only recycles about 50% of post-consumer packaging. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a strategy to incorporate all of the environmental costs associated with a product throughout its life cycle, and could increase recycling, reduce the current volume of packaging, and help divert single-use plastics from pollution-generating waste management methods.

Hawaii has already passed single-use plastic bans for certain items at the state and county levels, and Lowen joins other state legislators in agreement that the next step is tackling pollution at its source.

“We cannot keep pushing environmental costs on to states and municipalities while the industries that profit from polluting continue to peddle the myth that local, taxpayer-funded recycling programs and individual actions alone are real solutions,” said Lowen. “In Hawaii, plastics and other packaging waste threaten our marine resources and pollute our beaches, impacting the economy, public health, and our way of life. By working with other states through NCEL’s network, it is my hope that together we can move the industry to take action on a national scale, and move the public to demand that they do so.”

In addition to jointly introducing legislation, the legislators are forming an EPR for Packaging Network. By creating this network, legislators are establishing a group of lawmakers to exchange policy ideas, strategies, and lessons learned.

“These state legislators are committed to reducing plastic pollution waste and ensuring healthy communities,” said Jeff Mauk, executive director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “By acting together these legislators are able to ensure strong and ambitious EPR policies that can be adapted by future states. They are demonstrating the value in having state legislators work together across state lines.”

Created by and for state legislators, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,000 environmentally committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.

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