EPR | Mission-Based Recycling · Back to Blog

Minnesota Becomes Fifth in Nation to Pass Statewide Producer Responsibility for Packaging Policy

Minnesota recently became the fifth state in the nation to pass Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging. The Packaging Waste & Cost Reduction Act, introduced by Representative Sydney Jordan (D-60A) and State Senator Kelly Morrison (D-45), was signed into law by Minnesotan Governor Tim Waltz on Tuesday, May 21. 

With strong implementation and oversight, this new policy will reduce packaging, better support Minnesota’s recycling system, and hold packaging producers accountable for much of the waste that is impacting environmental and human health.  

Eureka Recycling, a co-founding member of AMBR, worked alongside the Minnesota Zero Waste Coalition to strengthen the bill language to eliminate the most problematic and unnecessary packaging, prioritize reduction and reuse, and hold producers accountable for their packaging choices while ensuring that the public has a voice in the implementation process.  

EPR policies for packaging and paper are critical for reducing unnecessary packaging. If well-designed, these policies can support scaling up reuse systems, improving and increasing recycling, ensuring equitable and convenient access to recycling, and helping drive more sustainable product design. 

Over 40 countries and provinces globally have producer responsibility policies for containers and packaging. Five US states—California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon—have recently adopted policies. Three of these five states had an AMBR-recycler—a mission-based recycler—supporting policy by advocating for strong packaging reduction language and bridging the gap to create solutions for the common issues faced by both recyclers and haulers. 

Minnesota’s Packaging Waste & Cost Reduction Act will:  

Implement Producer Fees: Members of the newly formed Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) will be comprised of the largest producers of packaging sold in Minnesota. PRO members will be required to pay fees based on the type and amount of packaging they sell in the state.  

The fees will fund most of the recycling costs for residents, schools, most non-profits, and government entities. The fees will also support increased access to recycling, composting, and reuse services; fund public education; allow for a needs assessment to be conducted every five years to evaluate the program’s impact on the waste stream; and cover the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) costs of implementing and enforcing the program.  

Establish Collection Lists: The program requires the MPCA to create two collection lists—a curbside recyclability list and an alternative collection list. Based on the initial needs assessment and feedback from the public, the agency will determine the types of materials that can be recycled curbside and those that can be recycled through alternative methods of collection (such as store drop–offs). If a material is not on either list and is not reusable or compostable, then it cannot be sold into the state after 2032.  

Mandate Packaging Redesign: Producers will be required to redesign their packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2032. However, the MPCA could approve a deadline extension through 2040 for specific materials.  

Set Specific Targets: Producers must meet specific targets for waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and post-consumer recycled content (PCRC). The MPCA sets these targets, which are based on findings in the needs assessment and will be updated every five years. 

Ensure PCRC Targets are Additive: Unique to the new Minnesota law is the criteria for measuring PCRC targets. When calculating PCRC, the PRO must ensure that what is counted towards the statewide target is additive. This means producers cannot use what they are counting towards meeting other state PCRC mandates towards what they count in Minnesota. Minnesota’s new EPR law will mandate a tangible increase in demand for PCR, surpassing existing mandates in other states. This law will increase material supply which is critical given that this new law will also increase demand. 

Much of the program details will be informed by a third-party needs assessment (contracted by the state) and established in a Stewardship Plan that is written by the PRO but approved by the MPCA and the program’s Advisory Board. Minnesotans will be able to weigh in and inform the needs assessments and the Stewardship Plans.

As mission-based recyclers working to keep natural resources in the ground, we know big changes are needed to address the waste crisis. EPR for packaging is a foundational policy for addressing this global crisis, and we applaud our friends at Eureka Recycling for their leadership in moving this policy forward in ways that prioritize reduction and support improvements to recycling.