Resources for Reuse Policy Advocates and Governments

Immersive, widespread reuse systems will require innovation, investment, and a policy environment supportive of reuse. To help equip reuse advocates and governments with the necessary resources to advocate for and implement reuse-enabling policies, the Living Landscape team has compiled the following resources:

Reuse-Enabling Policy Landscape

There are currently no policies in the United States with specific reuse targets. However, there are policies in place that can help create a favorable environment for reuse and refill systems. The team at the Living Landscape database has compiled a database of over 700 policies in the United States that help encourage reuse. This database currently only includes enacted policies, not proposed legislation. The research was conducted from August 2021 through February 2022. 

If you know of policies not currently in our database, feel free to reach out to us at updates@reuselandscape.org.

Click here to access the full database.

 

Pre-

2005

The chart above shows the emergence of policies favorable to reuse. Policies prior to 2005 were focused on Zero Waste City legislation and Container Packaging Material laws, primarily related to polystyrene. Since 2012, much of the legislation has focused on single-use plastic bag bans. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation favorable to reuse has declined. 

 

The chart below illustrates that much of the policy is at the municipal level, particularly Container Packaging Material policy, Single-Use Plastic Bag Bans and Single-Use Serviceware Restrictions. 

The policies are divided into six categories outlined below: Container Packaging Materials,  Extended Producer Responsibility, Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bans, Single-Use Plastic Bag Bans, Single-Use Serviceware Restrictions, and Zero Waste Cities. 

Container Packaging Materials - These policies either ban the use of certain materials, such as polystyrene, or require the use of biodegradable or compostable materials, in single-use foodware items. Biodegradable or compostable materials are typically more expensive than traditional plastic packaging and can make reusable foodware systems more financially competitive. 

 
Municipal 
State-Wide

Extended Producer Responsibility - These policies shift the burden of waste management from states and municipalities on to the producers of single-use packaging. This has the potential to make reusable and refillable solutions more attractive to manufacturers of consumer packaged goods.

 

Single-Use Plastic Bag Bans - These policies ban or charge a fee for single-use plastic bags. Some of these laws apply to all plastic bags, while others set a specification for bag thickness that constitutes single-use. These ordinances encourage consumers to use reusable bags and can help shift consumer mindsets towards reuse behavior. 

 
Municipal
State-Wide

Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bans - These policies ban plastic bottles below a certain size, frequently one liter. These bans can encourage consumers to use reusable water bottles. The state-wide bottle bill in New York applies to bottled water at state agencies and facilities. 

 
Municipal
State-Wide

Single-Use Serviceware Restrictions - These policies ban establishments from providing single-use serviceware items such as utensils unless requested by customers. These laws encourage customers to use reusable serviceware and discourage unnecessary plastic items. This database does not include single-use straw bans as they are not sufficiently relevant to reuse and refill systems. 

 
Municipal
State-Wide

Zero Waste Cities - These cities have made commitments to divert a certain percent of their waste away from landfills and incineration, frequently 90%, by a specific date. Some cities have tiered programs gradually phasing out waste by specific milestone dates. These cities may be more motivated to encourage reuse and refill programs because they often replace difficult to recycle single-use items with reusables. 

 

Policy Advocacy Organizations 

The Living Landscape database currently includes over 200 organizations working in advocacy for reuse. Of these there are over 45 campaigns catalogued working on reuse policy. 

 

The programs by Reuse Advocacy organizations engaged in reuse advocacy can be found in our database here. 

The chart at the right shows reuse policy advocacy programs by active region of the Reuse Advocacy organization. A number of these programs are operational in multiple regions of the world.