Extended Producer Responsibility: Implications for Brands

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a pattern of legislation designed to improve end-of-life outcomes for products that are difficult to recycle. Cascades Sonoco offers functional alternatives to plastic packaging with our selection of aqueous-based coatings and laminations that can be applied to paper-based packages.  

Since 2021, five U.S. states have passed variations of EPR bills, targeting the use of plastic in Maine, California, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. It appears that EPR will only grow as the practices take shape in these leading states.

The EPR movement, though somewhat new to the U.S., has been active in Europe since the 1990s. Extended Producer Responsibility laws impose additional taxes or fees on retailers using less sustainable packaging or wasteful products. Conceptually, EPR rewards companies who conform to higher sustainability standards and penalizes producers who do not comply, thus removing some of the financial burden from governments and consumers.  

EPR supporters say that this program is a key element of the larger circular economy model. States who are implementing plastic EPR bills hope to improve recycling rates and encourage consumers to engage with less wasteful products. Ultimately, taxes on recyclable and repulpable packaging should be considerably less than those plastic counterparts under new EPR legislation.

Although there is much dispute over how these laws will be carried out, the undercurrent of sustainable packaging trends is certain. Companies must take ownership of their packaging practices.  

Sustainable Packaging Alternatives

For Cascades Sonoco, these recent laws are neither a surprise nor a challenge. Separately, Cascades and Sonoco have been leaders in sustainable packaging for decades. Jointly, we have developed recyclable and repulpable packaging through our innovative, high-performance coatings and laminations.

Companies who are searching for sustainable substitutes or wax replacements in response to EPR standards can benefit from our FlexSHIELD, SurfSHIELD, and FluteSHIELD products. We treat liners, medium (for corrugation), bending chipboard, SBS, kraft paper and more various substrates with coating offering great barrier properties and food safety compliance (FDA-, CFIA- & EUR certified) as well as 98% recyclability and compostability (BNQ- & TÜV AUSTRIA certified).  

Meeting these qualifications requires extensive testing and monetary investment. Companies who meet this level of sustainability demonstrate a level of integrity and commitment that predates these EPR laws.

Our goals only continue to expand as we reach new milestones. Let us know what challenges you are facing and how we can turn them into possibilities.