NWPSC Summer 2015 Newsletter

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Summer (July / August) 2015


Mercury lights stewardship rule revision
The Washington Dept. of Ecology is beginning the process to revise the rules for the Mercury-Containing Lights Product Stewardship Program to reflect changes made to the law in 2014, which include the requirement to fund the program through an environmental handling charge, and revised requirements for stewardship plans and annual reports including an independent financial audit. The rule process will include an informational meeting and formal public hearing.

6000 mattresses recycled in first month of stewardship programlogo of Bye Bye Mattress
Connecticut's mattress producer responsibility program (rebranded as "Bye Bye Mattress" but operated by the Mattress Recycling Council or MRC) began May 1. More than 6000 mattresses were collected and recycled statewide in May, from over sixty cities, towns, and other large quantity generators in Connecticut. The program is funded through a $9 visible recycling fee collected at retail from customers on each mattress and box spring sold in Connecticut. MRC will launch similar programs in California and Rhode Island in 2016; on July 1, MRC submitted the required stewardship plans to state oversight agencies for review in those states. MRC's proposed recycling fee, to be collected on the sale of each new or renovated mattress or box spring sold (then remitted to MRC) is an $11 recycling fee in California and a $10 recycling fee in Rhode Island.

StewardChoice drafting new PPP stewardship plan in BC
StewardChoice Enterprises, a subsidiary of Reclay StewardEdge, held stakeholder consultations to update their draft Packaging and Printed Paper (PPP) Stewardship Plan to be submitted to the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. The draft plan would expand "recycling services to a number of single and multi-family households that are not currently receiving producer funded services." (via the Product Stewardship Institute).

Packaging in the News

Will flexible packaging become treasure or remain trash?
Waste360 article looks at flexible packaging and the relationship among consumers, producers, investors, and recyclable packaging. Flexible packaging makes up 19% of market material share. "Since 2008, TerraCycle has collected 234 million-plus juice pouches that have taken on second lives as plastic lumber, park benches, picnic tables, watering cans and flower pots... While remarkable, it’s just a drop in the proverbial recycling bin in a country that sips, chews and cleans its way through 80 billion single-material and multi-layer pouches annually, according to an April 2014 report by the Freedonia Research Group."

Flexible packaging: what are we gonna do with all this stuff?
UPSTREAM highlights the debate over flexible packaging: light-weight, single-use materials, which have a lower carbon footprint in recent analyses, but which do not hold true to circular economy and cradle-to-cradle principles. "The [packaging] industry says that the problem is not with our package, but with the MRFs [material recovery facilities]. It's not our fault that MRFs were built to handle heavier, thicker and single-material packaging. We're the innovators here. Someone's got to invest in the MRFs. To which we would say, Bingo. Someone needs to invest in the MRFs, the collection infrastructure, and effective public education to collect and utilize flexibles."

'Significant progress' on flexible packaging recyclability
In a project called Reflex, global companies Axion Consulting, Dow Chemical, Nestlé, Unilever and others say they have made "significant" progress in improving the recyclability of flexible packaging. The project has taken multi-layer packaging structures and redesigned them using materials which "can potentially be recycled together." The project is also using Near Infra-red (NIR) sorting technologies to detect and separate mixed polyolefin packaging (candy wrappers and chips bags). The project expects that "the market will follow a similar model to that for plastic bottle recycling and take 10 years to mature to a point at which more than 50% of flexible packaging is diverted from the waste stream." – Environmental Leader

Evolution of EPR for packaging in the US
In the PAC NEXT Summer 2015 report, Matt Prindiville of UPSTREAM and Heidi Sanborn of the California Product Stewardship Council, wrote on the evolution of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging in the U.S. There is widespread support from both municipalities and producers to boost packaging recycling, however this isn't supported with funding. Prindiville and Sanborn suggest a "shared responsibility approach – which balances the investment from producer fees on packaging and taxpayer and/or garbage ratepayer funding, with shared control among key stakeholders toward achieving robust recycling and litter prevention goals – may be the key to making EPR work politically in the U.S."

Other News

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: September 26
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will hold another national take back day on Sept. 26, 2015, nationwide 10am-2pm. In an NPR interview, the "acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration says he was shocked by how many people die every day" from overdoses.

Job: Senior Policy Analyst at Oregon DEQ 
The Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is hiring a Senior Policy Analyst in its Materials Management Section in Portland, supporting the implementation of Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action. Apply for the Operations and Policy Analyst 3 (Senior Policy Analyst) position by August 13, 2015.

Industry stewards: the hidden benefactors of recycling
An article in Environmental Leader by Call2Recycle examines the role of industry stewards and product stewardship. The concept of industry stewards emerged in 1996 after the passage of the Universal Waste Rule. Stewards could pool resources, introduce a responsible recycling program into the marketplace and educate consumers on their programs. Call2Recycle, a voluntary battery stewardship organization created in the early 1990s, has been an advocate for product stewardship.

Upcoming Events

  • California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual conference: August 4-7, Los Angeles, CA
  • The state of the art of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the US (webinar): August 12, 1-2pm Pacific
  • National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day (nationwide): September 26, 10am-2pm

Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC)The Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) is a coalition of government agencies in Washington and Oregon working on solid waste, recycling, resource conservation, environmental protection, public health and other issues. Together with non-government agencies, businesses and individuals, we form a network that supports product stewardship and extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies and programs. For more information, contact info@productstewardship.net or visit us at www.ProductStewardship.net.

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