Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act, the most impactful recycling bill in over 40 years, advances through first legislative committee

St. Paul, MN, – Today, state, local, and national leaders, including Partnership on Waste and Energy, Conservation Minnesota, Eureka Recycling, Solid Waste Administrators Association, r.World, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and The Recycling Partnership, testified in support of HF 3577/SF 3561. The Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act, authored by State Representative Sydney Jordan (DFL – Minneapolis) and State Senator Kelly Morrison (DFL – Deephaven), advanced through its first hearing in the House’s Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. This bill would require all packaging be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2032.

Hailed as the most important recycling bill since the 1980 Waste Management Act, this bill will fundamentally reshape how recycling is funded and will resolve frustration felt by Minnesotans in dealing with all the packaging overflowing from their trash cans.

“We have a waste problem in Minnesota, with 40% of that waste coming from packaging. That’s a number that’s only expected to grow,” said Rep. Jordan. “Minnesotans are bearing this burden, both financially and environmentally, and it’s long past time for a change.” 

This producer responsibility system builds on Minnesota’s existing recycling infrastructure, ensures sustainable funding to reduce the cost to recycle, and incentivizes the redesign of packaging and paper products – all without taxpayer funds.

“Minnesotans are frustrated with the growing environmental and financial impacts of excessive packaging waste,” said Sen. Morrison. “The Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act is a great step forward to making recycling easier, decreasing climate impacts from waste, and lowering taxpayer costs.”

Residents and businesses have long expressed the desire for more options for reusable, recyclable, or compostable alternatives. The e-commerce and the delivery economy has led to a dramatic increase in packaging waste, which now account for 40% of waste. Much of the current packaging is problematic for the recycling and composting systems.

“The burden of managing these ever-growing mountains of packaging waste currently falls on local governments and taxpayers,” said Ramsey County Commissioner and chair of the Partnership on Waste to Energy, Victoria Reinhardt. “By shifting the cost of recycling to producers we create an incentive to reduce waste and stop using materials that are hard to recycle. This will save taxpayers millions of dollars spent on waste programs and make recycling easier for everybody.”

What we buy, how it’s packaged, and the options to dispose of it has a big impact on climate.

“Addressing climate change requires rethinking how we keep our valuable natural resource materials in use, over and over again, known as a circular economy,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota. “By asking manufacturers to do their part, the Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act would lead to more reuse and recycling and less waste going to our landfills or trash burners.”

Developed over many years with a coalition of partners, the bill includes:

  • oversight and enforcement responsibilities by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency,
  • requirements for producers to work with existing waste haulers and recycling facilities to ensure recycling services are as conveniently available to all Minnesotans as trash collection, and
  • funding for recycling education materials that will be consistent across the entire state.

Coalition partners also encouraged the public to voice their support for the packaging recycling bill to garner the support needed to pass this bill this session. Hennepin County Board Chair Irene Fernando said “With the passage of this bill, Minnesota can join the ranks of national zero-waste leaders working to create a future where less waste is created in the first place, where everyone shares responsibility, and where everyone benefits from more accessible services.”

More information on today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s webpage. Video of today’s hearing can be found on the House Public Info YouTube channel.

Kelly Morrison represents District 45 in the southwest Twin Cities metro.

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