NWPSC July 2017 Newsletter

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July 2017

Legislation & Programs

Washington State passes first solar stewardship bill in nationsolar panels
On July 7, 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law first-in-the-nation solar legislation requiring manufacturers to finance and manage a recycling program for used solar units. The program must provide regional take back locations where solar modules can be delivered for proper recycling at no cost to the last owner of the unit. State Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) championed the product stewardship requirement, saying it "would be shortsighted to introduce a bill that expands the number of solar units in our state, and not have a strategy for safe recycling when they're no longer functional". The stewardship requirement is part of a larger bill, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5939, that incentivizes solar unit ownership and creates jobs in the local renewable energy industry.

The stewardship requirement states that manufacturers who sell solar units in the state of Washington after July 1, 2017, are responsible for financing and providing a recycling program for their units; manufacturers who do not provide a recycling program cannot sell solar modules after January 1, 2021. This recycling requirement covers:

  • Solar modules used on or in buildings
  • Freestanding off-grid power generation systems such as water pumping stations
  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Solar fencing, solar-powered signs and solar-powered street lights

It does not include small solar-powered consumer electronics such as watches and calculators.
Learn more about Washington state's precedent setting solar product stewardship law in the Northwest Product Stewardship Council's press release.

Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC) rebrands as Recycle BClogo of Recycle BC
Multi-Material BC (MMBC) recently rebranded to Recycle BC, to "effectively support our operations work from a marketing and communications perspective." Launched in 2014, Recycle BC is responsible for packaging and printed paper recycling, servicing over 1.7 million households (about 97% of those in the province) through curbside, multi-family or depot collection.
In an article in Recycling Product News Allen Langdon, Managing Director of Recycle BC, explained the organization:

"Recycling services are provided either directly to communities or by working in partnership with local governments, First Nations, private companies, and other non-profit organizations. 156 communities participate in Recycle BC's recycling collection program, more are serviced by our recycling depots, and each year approximately 186,000 tonnes of packaging and printed paper is collected from households and depots...
As the first 100-percent-EPR [extended producer responsibility] program for printed paper and packaging in Canada and as one of the most advanced recycling systems for these materials in the world, Recycle BC looks forward to continuing to play a critical role in the future of recycling in Canada and North America."

Recycle BC and London Drugs expand take back partnership to plastic packaging
As of July 5, 2017, recycling plastic bags, plastic overwrap film and foam packaging in British Columbia became as simple as a trip to London Drugs. Building off a partnership established between Recycle BC and London Drugs stores in the City of Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, this expansion involves four stores in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Mission, BC, to include the following plastic packaging materials:

  • Plastic bags and overwrap, including grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, outer bags for diapers
  • White and coloured plastic foam packaging, including foam meat trays, foam egg cartons, and foam cushion packaging for electronics

According to a news release from Recycle BC, plastic bags, overwrap film, and foam packaging are not collected curbside because when these materials mix with other recyclables they do not separate well enough to meet the standards of North American recycling markets. In addition to London Drugs locations, residents can continue to return this packaging at seven other depots in these communities.

Recycle BC is a non-profit stewardship organization responsible for residential packaging and printed paper recycling throughout BC, ensuring household material is collected, sorted and recycled. London Drugs partners with a variety of regional, provincial and waste reduction organizations across Western Canada to recycle consumer items such as fluorescent lights, rechargeable and alkaline batteries, cell phones, cardboard, electronics, and cartridges for printers. Residents can also recycle a variety of packaging and printed paper in curbside or through recycling pick-up programs in multi-family buildings: see the full list of packaging and printed paper that can be recycled.

Newspapers submit plan to comply with British Columbia EPR law
British Columbia enacted extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and printed paper (PPP) in 2011. Producers were required to be operating with an approved stewardship plan and to pay for collection of their products within three years of the regulation taking effect, according to a July 18 article in Resource Recycling, but the newspaper industry has not been paying. Multi-Material BC (recently renamed Recycle BC) began collecting PPP and receiving payments from most producers in 2014. Newspaper is included as a covered product, alongside any other materials that use text and graphics to communicate information, with the exception of most books.

British Columbia members of the newspaper industry association News Media Canada submitted their plan, which would have "newspaper publishers offer free ad space to government agencies in lieu of payment. Public agencies would then pay the newspapers' stewardship payments to Recycle BC, the producer-funded stewardship organization for packaging and printed paper (PPP), using the money saved by not paying for ads... Each newspaper will be assigned a cost responsibility based on the amount of newsprint it consumes and they would provide government agencies with an equivalent amount of advertising. According to the plan, neither the government nor other producers will be subsidizing the newspapers under this arrangement." The plan must be reviewed and approved by the province.

News & Resources

Oregon DEQ 2017 Materials Management Grants now open
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) intends to award approximately $500,000 in Materials Management grants in 2017 that promote the prevention, reuse or recovery of solid wastes. According to the Association of Oregon Recyclers, "DEQ is expanding the eligible applicant pool to include federally-recognized tribal nations and ORS 190.010 organizations... Also new this year will be a separate round of “micro-grants” designed to reduce environmental impacts by addressing workforce challenges in reuse and repair industries. In this pilot project, up to $10,000 per applicant ($50,000 total) will be offered to private businesses and non-profit organizations registered in Oregon." Further information and upcoming application deadlines are available on the DEQ grants webpage.

Plastics Summit
Zero Waste Washington will host a Plastics Summit on Sept. 25 in Tukwila, WA, 9am-4pm. The goal of the one-day forum is to present scientific, technical and up-to-date information about current issues, challenges and opportunities regarding plastic pollution in the environment, plastic recycling, reducing the use of single-use plastics and packaging, and alternatives to plastics in the Pacific NW. The day brings together scientific researchers, agency staff, industry reps, K-12 teachers, students, elected officials, and interested public in a cross-sector dialogue. The organizing themes are three topics of current concern and interest:

  • Toxic chemicals in plastics
  • Microplastics
  • Packaging

Register for the Summit; scholarships are available. Contact Heather with questions.

Aquariums to phase-out single-use plastics
In Our Hands, a consumer campaign of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), is a coalition of 19 U.S. aquariums, founded by Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Aquarium, and Shedd Aquarium, with the primary goal of reducing ocean and freshwater plastic pollution. According to the Mercury News, the aquariums will phase out "most plastic products — from plastic bags to straws to plastic beverage bottles..." as well as create "exhibits explaining how people can find alternatives to plastic, to raise consumer awareness among the 20 million people who visit the 19 aquariums," which include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco's Steinhart Aquarium, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, and Seattle Aquarium. The coalition will "work to convince zoos, sports teams, airports and other businesses to join."

Eliminating the concept of electronic waste
"The end-of-pipe approach, recycling end-of-usage products, cannot be the only solution. The industry needs to review the way electrical and electronic products are designed, manufactured, used, and collected to keep them out of the waste stream." A July 6 article in Circulate, which is "curated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation," outlined necessary steps:

  • Improve repairability
  • Industrialize refurbishing
  • Sell a service, not a product
  • Design for repair and reuse
  • Create frictionless collection

"Each household in France owns an average of a hundred pieces of electrical and electronic equipment. And this number will keep growing... Unfortunately, the more equipment we own, the more we trash. Waste electrical and electronic equipment is currently considered to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the European union, growing at 3-5% per year.
To recover high value materials from waste, the electronic and electrical equipment industry has massively invested in collection and recycling infrastructures. But today, results are disappointing: in Europe only 35% of discarded e-waste is properly collected by formal recycling systems while the valuable rare elements are almost entirely lost during recycling."

The author concluded that "Electronic and electric equipment manufacturers are amongst the world's most innovative companies. They are working hard to make everyday life easier. But so far they've taken little advantage of their unique capacity to adopt circular design approaches and invent more effective production and use models, or reduce the use of high value materials. And that needs to change."

Upcoming Events

  • U.S. Product Stewardship Forum: July 25-26, Boston, MA
  • Engaging Students in Zero Waste (webinar): July 26, 9-10am Pacific
  • CalRecycle Mattress Recycling baseline and goals workshop (webinar): Aug. 15, 1-4pm Pacific
  • California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual conference: Aug. 20-23, San Diego, CA
  • Conference on Canadian Stewardship: EPR and the Circular Economy: Sept. 27-29, Montreal, Canada
  • Plastics Summit: Sept. 25, Tukwila Community Center, Tukwila, WA
  • North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA) NW chapter conference: Oct. 15-18, Troutdale, OR
  • Sustainable Packaging Coalition: SPC Advance: Oct. 17-18, Pittsburgh, PA

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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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