Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging in the United States

Our International Compliance Team's most recent research project looked at the USA and Canada. Valpak’s International Account Manager, Noushka Seher, outlines some of our key research findings in the USA.

The International Compliance team at Valpak constantly conducts research projects to ensure that we have the most up to date knowledge and understanding of extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations around the world for our customers.


Our most recent research project looked at the USA and Canada, and Valpak’s International Account Manager, Noushka Seher, outlines some of our key research findings in the USA.

USA: Packaging EPR, 2021

In 2021, the USA began to implement packaging EPR regulations under the ‘Break free From Plastic Pollution Act’.

This was triggered by a ban on plastic imports to China, which meant that the USA had to reassess how they were handling packaging waste and has led to greater momentum building behind recycling legislations across the US.

The first two states set to implement Packaging Waste Regulations are Maine and Oregon.

Maine, ‘The LD 1541 Bill’, July 2021

Maine was the first state in the United States of America to pass an EPR law for packaging waste. The rules which will define the EPR programme will be determined this year.

The bill covers packaging only, with materials such as plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and other non-recyclable packaging in scope.

The overarching aim of this legislation is to reduce the volume and toxicity of packaging waste entering landfill and to increase the recycling of packaging material.

This waste management solution was also implemented as an incentive for producers to place less and more sustainable packaging onto the market.

Who is obligated?

Under ‘The LD 1541 Bill’ a producer is defined as ‘a person that has legal ownership of the brand of products sold or is the sole entity that imports to the state for sale’.

Under the current wording of the legislation, distance sellers and companies with a physical presence will be obligated for the packaging they are placing onto the market in Maine and will have to make a financial contribution towards its disposal.

There are some exemptions in place for companies that place less than one tonne of packaging onto the market in Maine.

Producers that are non-compliant may receive fines of $100/day for a violation of the State’s environmental laws.

Oregon, ‘Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernisation Act’, 2021

The Recycling and Modernisation Act was implemented to overhaul Oregon’s outdated recycling system. Authorities in Oregon are working closely with local community programmes and producers to create an innovative recycling system.

The overarching aim of this legislation is to ensure collected materials are effectively recycled to reduce plastic pollution moving forward. There will also be higher producer fees put in place for non-recyclable products placed on the market.

Under this legislation, producers are defined as ‘the manufacturer of the packaged goods’; however, non-profit organisations and public bodies are exempt; as well as producers that have an annual gross revenue of less than $5 million or place less than 1 metric tonnes of obligated product onto the market in Oregon.

The penalties for non-compliance are currently up to $1,000 per day for each day of the violation.

Looking forward

In 2022 the following nine states are expected to pass state bills outlining EPR regulations for packaging:

  • Washington
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts

Valpak International Compliance Service

If your business is affected by environmental legislation overseas, Valpak will remove the administrative and resource intensive burden of complying and has a range of services that can be tailored to suit your business’s needs.

To find out more about international environmental legislation and how Valpak can help please call us on 03450 682 572 or complete our online enquiry form.