Consumer demands often drive packaging trends, be it size, functionality, or recyclability. Giving consumers the convenience they demand is a major driver of change and the same approach has proven successful in Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes. Implementing easy-to-use and universally accessible collection systems maximizes consumer participation in the system and is a cornerstone of a high-performing EPR scheme for consumer packaging.
Systems that prioritize convenience also enable the achievement of high recycling rates through the combination of higher collection rates upfront, which increases the quantity of material in the system, and lowers contamination rates downstream, which improves the quality of the material in the system. For example, deposit return systems (DRS) designed with convenient features like a return-to-retail model, in which consumers can redeem used beverage containers at various purchase points, continually achieve higher collection and recycling rates.1
In TOMRA’s white paper, EPR Unpacked – A Policy Framework for a Circular Economy
, the resource management experts at TOMRA explain how to increase packaging recycling rates by maximizing consumer convenience in curbside and drop-off collection systems. The complimentary white paper serves as a guide when drafting policy for packaging and offers an entire chapter dedicated to why consumer convenience matters in an EPR scheme.
Equity and easy access
All packaging covered by an EPR scheme needs collection systems with comprehensive geographical coverage and easy access. A combination of collection methods that adapt to local conditions is the most effective way to maximize the capture of materials. In urban and semi-urban settings, a system might offer curbside collection for packaging waste, whereas drop-off points within a maximum distance range could serve remote and sparsely populated areas more efficiently.
Improving recycling habits depends on cultural norms and varies greatly depending on the country or region. Collection systems should be convenient and intuitive, making them easy for consumers to understand. If consumers are not clear on how to use a system, they might cease to participate or accidentally place items in the wrong bins, leading to an increase in contamination and operational costs.