GCA Urges Exemptions for Greeting Cards in Oregon EPR Law Implementation

Oregon passed an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill in 2021 for paper and plastic. Unfortunately, it includes both packaging and paper products (i.e., greeting cards). This means that producers of greeting cards will have to pay a fee based on the weight of the greeting cards they sell in Oregon (under the argument that all greeting cards end up in the recycling bin/waste stream).

The Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council met on Aug. 22 to review the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s exemption recommendations. Unfortunately, DEQ did not recommend the greeting card product exemption request despite a letter from the sponsors of the bill confirming that the intent was not to include them. GCA submitted a statement at the meeting supporting an exclusion for greeting cards highlighting their keepsake nature and emphasizing that they are not like marketing mail and do not go straight into the recycling bin. They are bought and sent with intention and care and often kept as keepsakes. The statement also pointed out the fact that legislative intent per the bill sponsors was to not include greeting cards in the EPR program

The Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council will hold at least one more meeting to discuss the exclusion recommendations from the Department of Environmental Quality before finalizing the list.  Feedback during the meeting suggests that the odds of getting greeting cards included are not favorable. While there is concern from the bill sponsors at the failure to follow legislative intent that could motivate them to introduce new legislation to make changes to confirm their intent, trying to go back and get greeting cards exempted through the legislative process will be very difficult. The makeup of the legislature is more progressive than it was when the bill was passed in 2021, and they may not have the votes. In addition, the original Democratic bill sponsor is no longer serving.

It is important for GCA members to know that EPR is also an emerging issue in many other states. We expect New York and possibly Minnesota to pass it next year. It will take proactive lobbying to ensure that paper products like greeting cards are not included. California, Maine, and Colorado have also enacted EPR legislation.  The Oregon and Colorado laws include cards.  In California and Maine, only packaging for boxed cards and packaging used to ship cards to retailers would be covered but not the cards themselves. Oregon and Colorado, however, do have small business exemptions for companies with less than $5 million in gross revenues that could protect many smaller GCA members.

In the meantime, the implementation of the Oregon law will go forward on the timeline in the legislation which calls for the commencement of the new system by July 2025 with the selection of the Producer Responsibility Organizations and system finalization to occur in 2024.

The following chart lays out a timeline for the implementation of EPR legislation in Oregon as well as the other states where it has passed:

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We engage with a variety of advocacy working groups, and have built a powerful coalition, all of whom are staunch supporters of maintaining the USPS as an independent entity, while also working to maintain six day mail delivery and identify cost-saving initiatives that help to maintain service quality and rate stability. We also support the current real price for single piece, First Class Mail.

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