Operating under EPR: An In-Depth Look at What's Working and What Isn't - Perspectives from Amcor

Insights from Charlie Schwarze of Amcor on EPR programs; California's CRV program; and implications for increasing packaging recovery and recycling.

In his role as the global sustainability manager for Amcor Rigid Plastics, Charlie Schwarze drives key sustainability initiatives in the area of government affairs, manufacturing operations, product development, and innovation. Charlie's current focus areas center on sustainable material innovation, Amcor lightweighting initiatives, and increasing the use of post consumer plastic in Amcor products.

At Sustainability in Packaging 2014, Charlie will be sharing insights into differences between various EPR programs; California's CRV program; current issues facing beverage brand owners and packaging companies in California and implications for increasing packaging recovery and recycling.

We are pleased to share an interview with Charlie offering a preview of his upcoming presentation:

California is at the forefront of many sustainability initiatives including EPR; how do you see the California CRV program evolving in the next 3 years?

I'll focus on the California CRV during my talk, and there a few key areas that California must focus on over the next year in order to keep the CRV program in fiscal solvency and continue to maintain buy-in from both industry and the public. First, the program's structural deficit will force the state to make decisions about whom to subsidize with program funds, an area which is critical to get right in order to balance the needs of various stakeholders and balance the program's budget. Second, California will need to enact innovative means to deal with redemption fraud, an unfortunate consequence of the state-by-state approach we in the United States are taking to recycling management.

In your opinion, what are the challenges to increase packaging recovery?

There are three broad challenges to increasing packaging recovery - consumer acceptance and acknowledgement that diversion really matters both economically and environmentally, extreme variance in the adoption of best practices for recovery at the city, state, and country level, and a lack of funding to accomplish the first two. We need to focus on all three simultaneously to drive increased recovery.

Can you share with us what role does Amcor play in the EPR process and how do you work with brands and waste management organizations to fulfill it?

Amcor works with industry partners and government officials to understand the most cost effective, efficient systems for material recovery. AMERIPEN and its 100 Cities project are a perfect example of industry collaboration that explored how best practices are employed in the 100 largest cities in the United States. On the flip side, we work with organizations like the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) to ensure that products we sell to brand owners are recyclable and find their way back into bottles in their next life.

What are you looking forward to hear at Sustainability in Packaging 2014?

I'm looking forward to updating myself on the sustainability goals and initiatives of our customers and competitors, and I'm really interested to see which companies and groups are really driving the conversation around sustainable consumption, resource efficiency, and heightened consumer awareness around the benefits of packaging.