We're working to change packaging systems so that they're better for people and the planet.

The prevalence of plastic pollution, growth in the use of low-value plastic, and inability for local government run systems to meet the needs of a changing waste stream are clear indications of market failure.  Local, state, and national policy needs to be pursued in order to account for these negative impacts on the public, from which many packaging companies and consumer goods companies make significant profits.

UPSTREAM seeks to develop new policy models that embrace source reduction, which sits at the top of every waste hierarchy but is often ignored in practice. As part of this process UPSTREAM initiates and facilitates dialogues to determine what policies local governments, environmental advocates and businesses can support. Through our policy dialogues, we seek to:

  • Identify issues and concerns regarding Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging, and other core policy tools.

  • Recommend processes for addressing potential issues.

  • Build a common understanding of the issues involved with a transition to producer-funded programs.

  • Provide a platform for local governments, environmental groups, and businesses to support and advocate for packaging systems that successfully advance their goals and interests.

The Freiberg Cup is a reusable coffee mug on deposit at all coffee shops in Freiburg Germany.

The Freiberg Cup is a reusable coffee mug on deposit at all coffee shops in Freiburg Germany.


Other Projects

Pollution Prevention

US network of non-profit organizations pressuring corporations to change and engaging Americans on solutions.

Cities Innovation

Convening and supporting city governments to reduce plastic pollution, boost recycling, and grow jobs.