Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach through which producers are given greater responsibility for the end-of-life treatment and/or disposal of post-consumer products. EPR policies result in the production of more sustainable products by promoting the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.

There are two related features of EPR policy: (1) shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to producers and away from the public sector; and (2) providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.

What States Have EPR Laws?Re-Mat Texas Mattress Recycling states with extended producer responsiblility (EPR) laws

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), a national membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their life-cycle, tracks existing state EPR laws on their website. Currently, over 30 states have enacted one or more EPR laws.

Are EPR Laws Effective?

According to the nation’s first statewide evaluation analyzing Connecticut’s four EPR laws for paint, mattresses, mercury thermostats, and electronics, the answer is a resounding YES! These four programs have diverted 26 million pounds of material from landfills, saved Connecticut municipalities and taxpayers more than $2.6 million annually, provided additional services worth another $6.7 million, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 13 million kg of carbon equivalent, and created over 100 jobs.

Re-Mat Texas Mattress Recycling CT Mattress Disposal Annual Rates Comparison Chart


Each program has been a success. Connecticut’s mattress recycling program resulted in GHG emissions savings of 4.2 million kg of carbon equivalent in 2016, equal to the emissions from 875 passenger vehicles. The state’s paint program recovered 51 percent (or over 320,000 gallons) of all leftover paint generated in the state in 2016. Connecticut’s mercury recovery rate has increased from an average of 17 pounds annually to 27 pounds annually thanks to the program. E-scrap recycling diverted 333 tons of lead from disposal in 2014.

What Principles Guide Development of EPR Policies and Legislation?

The Texas Product Stewardship Council has produced the following guidelines for stewardship programs.

1.  Producer Responsibility

  • All producers selling a covered product into the State are responsible for designing managing, and financing a stewardship program that addresses the life-cycle impacts of their products including end-­of‐life management.

  • Producers have flexibility to meet these responsibilities by offering their own plan or participating in a plan with others.

  • Costs for product waste management are shifted from taxpayers and ratepayers to producers and users.

  • Programs are operated by producers with minimum government involvement.

  • In addressing end-­‐of-­‐life management, all stewardship programs must finance the collection, transportation, and responsible reuse, recycling or disposition of covered products. Stewardship programs must:

    • Cover the costs of new, historic and orphan covered products.

    • Provide convenient collection for consumers throughout the State.

2.  Shared Responsibilities

  • Retailers only sell covered products from producers who are in compliance with stewardship requirements.

  • State and local governments work with producers and retailers on educating the public about the stewardship programs.

  • Consumers are responsible for using return systems set up by producers or their agents.

3.  Governance

  • Government sets goals and performance standards following consultation with stakeholders. All programs within a product category are accountable to the same goals and performance standards.

  • Government allows producers the flexibility to determine the most cost effective means of achieving the goals and performance standards.

  • Government is responsible for ensuring a level playing field by enforcing requirements that all producers in a product category participate in a stewardship program as a condition for selling their product in the jurisdiction.

  • Product categories required to have stewardship programs are selected using the process and priorities set out in framework legislation.

  • Government is responsible for ensuring transparency and accountability of stewardship programs. Producers are accountable to both government and consumers for disclosing environmental outcomes.

4.  Financing

  • Producers finance their stewardship programs as a general cost of doing business, through cost internalization or by recovering costs through arrangements with their distributors and retailers. End of life fees are not allowed.

5.  Environmental Protection

  • Framework legislation should address environmental product design, including source reduction, recyclability and reducing toxicity of covered products.

  • Framework legislation requires that stewardship programs ensure that all products covered by the stewardship program are managed in an environmentally sound manner.

  • Stewardship programs must be consistent with other State sustainability legislation, including those that address greenhouse gas reduction and the waste management hierarchy.

  • Stewardship programs include reporting on the final disposition, (i.e., reuse, recycling, disposal) of products handled by the stewardship program, including any products or materials exported for processing.

Want to learn more about the three states that have mattress EPR Laws.

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