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 disposable plastic products, and inability for local-government-run recycling programs to keep up are clear indications of a broken system which needs to be changed. Business created the throw-away society, and we believe business should have the responsibility for replacing it with a culture of stewardship. UPSTREAM works to effectively pressure business - through corporate engagement, organizing public pressure and developing policy campaigns - to reduce their use of harmful plastic in favor of safer, more sustainable alternatives.

We work to develop new and implement policy models that reduce and properly manage packaging materials to be continually reused in a circular economy. 

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

Plastics & Health

We are convening environmentalists with scientists & medical experts to determine & publicize the impacts of plastic packaging on human health.

Cities Innovation

We are convening and supporting city governments to reduce plastic pollution, boost recycling, and grow jobs.