NWPSC Fall 2017 Newsletter

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Fall 2017

Legislation & Programs

Washington Mercury Lights Stewardship updates and surveyslogo of LightRecycle Washington
LightRecycle collected 664,739 mercury-containing lights in the first six months of 2017, weighing 310,197 lbs. With more than 220 collection sites in Washington, including businesses and municipal facilities, LightRecycle has recycled more than two million mercury-containing lights since launching in 2015.
LightRecycle is a manufacturer operated product stewardship program run by PCA Product Stewardship Inc., a nonprofit, and overseen by the Washington Department of Ecology under the state's mercury lights law. LightRecycle allows individuals and businesses to recycle up to 10 mercury-containing lights per day at sites throughout Washington – find a location near you.
The Department of Ecology is conducting two surveys regarding LightRecycle Washington:

If you live in Washington and have utilized LightRecycle, please take these short surveys.

California enacts new carpet stewardship law
AB 1158, enacted October 14, improves California's existing carpet stewardship program, according to the National Stewardship Action Council (PDF), by:

  • creating a new carpet recycling goal of 24% by 2020
  • requiring that "carpet purchased by a state agency contains a minimum amount of postconsumer content that would be determined by the Department of General Services and published in the State Contracting Manual by July 1, 2018"
  • prohibiting a carpet stewardship organization from expending funds from the carpet stewardship assessment for specified costs and penalties, including for engineered solid waste conversion, the use of cement kilns to burn carpet, or transformation
  • creating a carpet stewardship advisory council – note: CalRecycle is accepting applications until Nov. 10

Carpet manufacturers Interface and Tandus supported the bill. Resource Recycling covered the news. Read more about California carpet stewardship from the past year.

California considers changes to state-run electronics recycling
On October 11, CalRecycle held a morning hearing followed by an afternoon workshop to consider public comment on proposed rulemaking to update and amend the nation's oldest electronics recycling program and its 2003 law. The current California program is state government-run, collecting an "advanced recycling fee" on electronics at the point of purchase and administering the operation of the recycling program. One CalRecycle proposal would amend California's law to become a producer responsibility law, whereby the electronics manufacturers are required to create, fund, and operate the recyling program. Another proposal would expand the existing government-run program to cover more electronic products, possibly including printers, appliances, and solar panels.
California is unique; according to Resource Recycling's coverage of the workshop, many businesses prefer the government-run program to an industry product stewardship program. In contrast, 23 other states have producer responsibility laws for electronics manufacturers. Neither the E-Cycle Washington nor Oregon E-Cycles electronics stewardship programs (in operation since 2009) require a visible fee on consumers – rather, the manufacturers internalize the cost of recycling as part of doing business.
This was the fourth Future of Electronic Waste Management in California workshop held since 2016.

Extended Producer Responsibility in Canada
The theme of the biennial Conference on Canadian Stewardship, held in Montreal at the end of September, was "EPR and the Circular Economy." In attendance were "hundreds of delegates representing business, manufacturers, retailers, industry and trade associations, municipalities, provincial and federal and territorial government representatives and stewardship programs from across North America and Europe." According to Resource Recycling, presenters suggested "opportunities now exist to expand EPR to include textiles, ozone-depleting substances and white goods (Quebec has now added appliances to its EPR-program list)." Canada has more than 120 extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. Competition was also discussed. "The typical Canadian EPR program has only one producer responsibility organization (PRO) for a specific product in a specific province. Some critics say this monopoly may stifle innovation. In Europe, numerous EPR efforts provide for competition. For example, the EPR system for curbside recycling in Germany involves 10 separate PROs." View video and slides on the conference website.

Mattress stewardship programs and fees
The stewardship organization Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) which operates programs in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California, recently completed first year annual reports for all three programs and changed the mattress recycling fee consumers pay at the point of purchase. CalRecycle, which oversees the MRC California program, approved the 2016 (first year) annual report and 2018 program budget, which includes a mattress recycling charge reduction from $11 to $10.50 per mattress or foundation unit, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Meanwhile, MRC Rhode Island's mattress recycling charge increased from $10 to $16 per unit on Oct. 1, 2017, and MRC Connecticut's charge remains unchanged at $9 per unit. For more information, visit the MRC website.

News & Resources

Packaging materials management in California
On October 10, CalRecycle held a Packaging Reform workshop. Part of their Packaging Reform policy model development process, and building upon a similar March 22, 2017 workshop, CalRecycle evaluated which mandatory policy models and instruments might be best suited to increasing collection and recovery of specific packaging types and solicited public comment. Resource Recycling covered news of the workshop.

China proposes ban on recycling imports
In July, China announced its intention to ban the import of certain recyclable materials ("several plastic resins including PET, PE, PVC, PS, and "other" plastics), textiles, unsorted mixed paper, and other materials") starting in 2018. Experts are weighing in on the potential effects to markets and U.S. curbside recycling programs. Clarissa Morawski sees opportunities. Chaz Miller wrote in Waste 360 that "we keep forgetting that recyclables are commodities whose market value fluctuates due to supply and demand" and that we have been here before, markets collapse and bounce back. Anne Johnson of RRS asked "Is resilience the silver lining to Chinese waste ban?"

"For too long, the U.S. has overlooked supporting and developing its own domestic end markets for recovered materials. It has relied on easy access to foreign markets with a seemingly endless appetite for materials and underdeveloped quality and oversight standards. The U.S. recycling marketplace had taken advantage of these conditions, pushing quantity over quality and many municipal recycling programs and companies have grown as a result.
The downside is the growing dependence on exports for almost the full range of commodities produced by U.S. material recovery facilities (MRFs) and exacerbated the price volatility of commodities by exposing them to the vagaries of foreign policies. This is a house built on an unstable foundation... And in an era of cheap fossil fuel, when recycled materials are in significant competition with virgin materials made with cheap energy or feedstocks, the industry can ill afford this."

Resource Recycling has extensively covered the ongoing news and reactions. Several local and national organizations scheduled webinars and forums for further discussion (see below).

Recent conferences, workshops and webinars
Video, notes, or slides from these events can be found at:

Job: PaintCare California SE regional coordinator
PaintCare, the paint stewardship organization which manages paint stewardship programs in 8 states and Washington, DC, is hiring a Southeast Regional Coordinator for California (PDF), to assist with growing and maintaining the paint stewardship program in California.

Upcoming Events

  • 2017 County Convention: Washington Association of County Officials (WACO) & Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) annual conferences: Nov. 14-16, SeaTac, WA
  • Recycling markets and impacts of the National Sword (AOR): Nov. 15, Troutdale, OR
  • Fall Policy Forum: China's ban and solid waste and recycling policy discussion (WSRA): Dec. 6, 8:30am-12:30pm, Federal Way City Council Chambers, WA (free, open to public)
  • China's Green Sword: impacts to state and local governments (SWANA, NWRA, CalRecycle) (webinar): Dec. 8, 2017 (more dates scheduled thru April 2018)

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