General Mills and Procter & Gamble Pressured to Reduce Packaging

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The average American generates 5 pounds of garbage a day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  And if you’re like me, most of that trash comes from food packaging.

As You Sow, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, is urging Procter & Gamble and General Mills to adopt “Extended Producer Responsibility” laws. These programs require corporations to reclaim and recycle post-consumer waste, often by charging a fee.

“It means everything you buy at a grocery store, someone would be paying fees to recycle that,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior director of the corporate social-responsibility program for As You Sow, to the LA Times blog. “Right now, it’s haphazard by municipality whether something is recycled and who does it and how efficient it is, so [EPR] would really change the infrastructure of waste in this country in a positive way. This resolution is a first step in that direction.”

If an “Extended Producer Responsibility law” sounds familiar to you, it’s because some states have a similar law in regards to electronics recycling. Twenty-three states currently have EPR laws in place for e-waste. (California is the odd man out—its e-waste law requires consumers to pay a recycling fee.)

If these companies end up making the effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle their packaging, I’ll be interested to see how it plays out. I imagine that it would be difficult for large companies to earn money recycling old packaging. Electronics can be refurbished, or broken down into metals. Old cereal boxes? I assume that those are more difficult to reuse efficiently.

I hope this provides all manufacturers with an incentive to use less packaging, use more post-consumer recycled content in packaging, and discover more sustainable options (compostable packaging perhaps?).

Do you think that this is a step in the right direction?

You can read more here, on the L.A. Times blog.

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