Here’s perhaps one of the biggest issues that’s going to impact bakers and snack producers in 2022 and beyond. It involves being forced by states to pay a fee if your packaging doesn’t include the right recycled materials or the correct amount of them.

In some states, conventional packaging will be subject to a fee unless it’s changed, often to more expensive alternatives. Jeff King, senior director global sustainability and social impact, The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., spoke about what is called extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging.

Passed in Maine and Oregon this year, the laws require companies to meet specified recycling rates and/or recycled content standards in their packaging or pay a fee on conventional packaged goods.

“There’s a list of very large states, both red and blue, that we think will pass EPR legislation in the next two years because it’s a means of generating money for the state,” Mr. King told snack manufacturers at SNAC International’s Executive Leadership Forum. “If you’re in flexible packaging, like almost everyone in this room, you’re going to be paying taxes on it if it’s not recyclable, and they’re looking at the recycled content going into packages. You’re going to need to change your packaging.”

Mr. King was speaking on a panel about how environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals are gaining momentum through “multiple pressure points” from the press, consumers, retail customers and now state governments. For those who are asleep on ESG, it’s time to wake up and take notice before this issue hurts your bottom line in ways you didn’t expect.