It’s time for packaging producers to start assessing their packaging design and materials and learning how to comply with new state laws in the United States.    

Full laws establishing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging are now in four states—Maine, California, Oregon, and Colorado – and groundwork laws have passed in Illinois and Maryland. AMERIPEN anticipates continued momentum for legislation that asserts packaging producers are responsible for helping to fund recovery of their products at its end of life. 

As rulemaking ramps up, AMERIPEN, in collaboration with industry, is working with the states to make sure the new laws are as reliable, efficient, equitable, and as fair as possible. In the meantime, packaging producers need to be aware of these regulations and their nuances, particularly if they are doing business across multiple states. 

Here’s a brief look at some major components and implementation of the new EPR laws. 


In July 2021, Maine became the first state in the country to have an EPR law. Producers, predominantly brand owners, of most consumer packaging will be required to pay into a stewardship organization, and those funds will be used to reimburse municipalities for packaging end-of-life management. Formal rulemaking, which includes a hearing and public comment period, must begin by December 31, 2023. Conceptual draft rules for the program have already been made public. Producer compliance begins in the fall of 2026.

In general, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will have significant decision-making authority. It will select and award a 10-year direct contract to one producer responsibility organization (PRO), and it will approve the needs assessment, annual reports, and investment budgets submitted by the PRO. The DEP also will define “readily recyclable” packaging material, and it likely will define the program’s recycling goals, including rates and dates.


Several weeks after Maine, Oregon became the second state to sign an EPR bill into law. Its law covers not only packaging, but also paper and food serviceware, with producer responsibility falling primarily on brand owners. The law also establishes recycling rates and dates for plastics only, and eco-modulation for all covered products is required.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has authority to approve one or more PROs, which will be responsible for setting and collecting membership fees and for certifying that covered products are indeed recycled. Producers must start paying fees to a PRO by July 2025. Their fees will be used to fund an expanded recycling system in the state, including ratepayer protection, contamination reduction programs, expanded recycling collection access, waste prevention and reuse grants, rural and distant community freight costs, PRO and DEQ administrative costs, and educational resources. 

Rulemaking for implementing Oregon’s law is steadily progressing. The first major rule is slated to be approved in November, and development of a second major rule is underway and to be approved in 2024. 


In early June 2022, Colorado became the third state with a packaging EPR law. In May 2023, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) appointed the nonprofit Circular Action Alliance (CAA) as the PRO to administer its EPR law and help producers meet their compliance obligations. 

Starting July 1, 2025, producers—defined as brand owners or company named on the packaging—must either participate in CAA or submit an individual program plan. CAA will: set recycling goals for all materials; directly contract with recycling service providers and other stakeholders; determine readily recyclable parameters; and set minimum recycling collection and minimum recycled content rates, with eco-modulation incentives. Those fees will be used to pay 100% of the cost of the system, as stipulated in the law.

Colorado’s Producer Responsibility Advisory Board has been meeting since the beginning of this year to help inform implementation of the EPR program, and CDPHE has hired consultants that are currently conducting the required statewide needs assessment to help shape producer requirements. 


Quickly after Colorado, California became the fourth state in the nation to enact a packaging EPR law. The law covers single-use packaging for all types of materials, as well as plastic food serviceware. 

Cal-Recycle, one of the state’s environmental agencies, will oversee the PRO, and the law establishes an advisory board to collaborate with Cal-Recycle and the PRO to review the needs assessment, program plans, and recycling rates and to offer other technical assistance. Producers will be required to belong to and pay into the PRO by January 2027. 

According to the law, all covered materials must be recyclable or compostable by 2032. All covered plastic material must be recycled at a rate of 30% by 2028, 40% by 2030, and 65% by 2032. Under coordination of the PRO, producers also must source-reduce covered materials 25% by weight and 25% by number of plastic components by 2032.

Cal-Recycle has now completed an extensive series of stakeholder workshops to help inform preliminary draft regulations that are expected to be released for public comment in the very near future. 

Standards Needed

As these EPR and other packaging laws continue to proliferate in the U.S., stakeholder collaboration with organizations such as AMERIPEN will be essential to advocate for standardized practices and fees among states to reduce complexity and aid compliance. Learn more about EPR from AMERIPEN at