ACMA Closely Monitoring a New & Potentially Sizable Catalog Cost

ACMA has been monitoring the fast-moving development of EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility, which if unchecked could cost you money. You may have heard of this concept already: Those companies that generate waste should pay to have it disposed of or recycled. It is a popular concept in Europe and across many western economies supported by major international brands with the proviso that these terms be applied across the entirety of the supply chain and not just to the biggest companies.

If you haven’t heard about it, here are a couple of articles (see this and this). The concept has gotten the most traction with hard-to-recycle items like mattresses, plastic and batteries but is now picking up steam with paper. A well-funded group called The Recycling Partnership (TRP) has set out to lobby state legislatures to pass EPR laws across the country and over a dozen states are now in various stages of consideration of this concept.

Municipalities are particularly eager to see these initiatives move forward as they look for funding to operate increasingly expensive recycling programs. Never mind that these same communities degraded the value of their paper fiber when they went to single stream. That caused relatively clean paper to become loaded with contaminants and water making it much less valuable to recycling mills. Now they want you to pay for it.

Could Equate to 10%-15% of Your Postage

TRP is focused on a specific part of the paper waste stream: catalogs, magazines and newspapers. While nobody has been able to quantify the costs of this because no laws have yet passed, by using amounts being assessed in Canada, ACMA estimates that this will represent a new and additional cost to catalog publishers equal to about 10% to 15% of the cost of your postage.

ACMA has reached out and is in discussions with our colleagues in magazines and newspapers, as well as the paper industry that supplies us all. While we all universally dislike placing additional financial burdens on our industries, especially given the current high recovery rate of recycling, we have concluded we will not “just say no” as it will freeze us out of the discussions. Rather, we are trying to understand the specific objectives of the parties, develop alternatives and seek ways to mitigate the impact if we cannot figure out a way to exempt our products altogether.

Please Give ACMA Your Feedback

Please send a quick email to and answer the following questions:

  • Have you heard of this concept?
  • Do you have a company position on it?
  • Would an imposition of this additional cost be material to your company?
  • Would you hope ACMA manages this issue closely?

Your feedback on this matter will be helpful to us as we consider our next actions. Please also be sure to pass along any local press coverage you may come across.

Since this is a state level game right now (TRP does intend to introduce national legislation at some point), ACMA needs a wide intelligence-gathering network and we need your help: In addition to any local press coverage you come across, please pass along any intel you get from the states you operate in. Such action may not be reported nationally, so please forward any information you see to, particularly when there are developments in your state house (or houses) on EPR. We don’t want to miss a beat.

More to come on this (unfortunately), but we wanted to make sure members are aware of this EPR concept and how it may ultimately be applied to your business.

Thank you for your support.

Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association