NWPSC March 2018 Newsletter

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March 2018


Washington's legislative session ran Jan. 8 to March 8 and Oregon's session ran Feb. 5 to March 3:

  • Oregon medicine stewardship HB 2645: dead, but similar legislation is expected next year.
  • Washington paint stewardship HB 1376: dead.
  • Oregon product stewardship for household hazardous waste (HHW) HB 4126: dead. Also known as "EPR for HHW" (was HB 3105 in 2017), similar legislation is expected next year. Vermont is considering a similar bill (see News below).
  • Washington Fair Repair HB 2279: dead. Passed the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development, referred to Rules, this bill was supported by the Repair Association. California recently became the 18th state to consider right-to-repair legislation.


GreenSheen latex paint recycling and the Take it Back Network
With a lack of progress in the Washington legislature towards a statewide producer responsibility system since 2012, as an interim step, King County initiated a for-fee latex paint recycling service partnership with GreenSheen and local stores via the Take it Back Network. GreenSheen recently opened a latex paint recycling facility in Kent, and, in addition to those in King County, has partner locations in Bellingham, Longview, Olympia, Anacortes, and Friday Harbor. The first latex paint recycling event in King County will be held April 14 in Kirkland, WA, at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

Solar stewardship in Washington state
In 2017, Washington passed ESSB 5939, the Solar Incentives Job Bill, the first law in the nation to require manufacturers to manage and finance the safe recycling of solar units at end of life, at no cost to the owner of the product. The Washington Dept. of Ecology is developing guidance for manufacturers on creating a stewardship plan for a self-directed solar module collection and recycling program. Ecology's role is to ensure that the takeback plan offers a convenient collection system, and that the takeback and recycling of solar panels is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Ecology has scheduled stakeholder meetings for Feb. 21, May 24, August, and November 2018, according to their new solar panel website.

LightRecycle Washington fee increasedlogo of LightRecycle Washington
While the number of fluorescent (and other mercury-containing) lights collected and recycled in Washington continues to increase, their sales (and hence the fee collected to fund their recycling) are declining. On Feb. 1, 2018, LightRecycle Washington's environmental handling charge (EHC) increased from $0.50 to $0.95 per mercury-containing light.

LightRecycle Washington "continues to observe a steep decline in CFL sales, as well as in sales of fluorescent tubes and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. While PCA Product Stewardship Inc. (PCA), the operator of the program, anticipated and planned for the emergence of LED technology as a replacement for mercury-containing lights, it has occurred at a faster rate than projected. At the same time, collections of all mercury-containing lights, and therefore program expenses, continue to rise. As a result, the PCA Board of Directors has determined that the Environmental Handling Charge (EHC) must increase again to ensure the program is adequately funded to provide lamp-recycling services throughout Washington State on a continuing basis, as required by law.
The EHC is set by the PCA board of directors, which includes industry representatives, and is not set by government. As per the EHC approval process outlined in RCW 70.275.050, PCA submitted a budget and related information to the Department of Ecology concerning the rapid decrease in mercury-containing light sales. After reviewing these materials at length with PCA staff and industry representatives, Ecology approved the EHC increase on November 29, 2017."

The Everett Herald covered news of the increasing fee and recycling, and decreasing sales: "LightRecycle collected 988,449 bulbs in 2015 [the first year], 1,181,616 in 2016 and 1,317,787 in 2017... Manufacturers reported nearly 5.5 million mercury lights sold in Washington stores during 2016. That's down from 8.4 million in 2015, a drop of more than one-third in just one year."
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.


Vermont House passes EPR for HHW bill
H 560 passed the Vermont House on March 21 and awaits their Senate (via PSI newsletter). If the bill passes (the Governor pledged not to impose any new taxes or fees, including H 560), in 2020 a manufacturer of a household product containing a hazardous substance would be required to register "each year each household product containing a hazardous substance with the Secretary of Natural Resources prior to sale or distribution... and pay an annual fee of $100.00 for each registered household product containing a hazardous substance," as well as defining what is and is not a hazardous substance.
Among the findings the bill addresses: "Despite the diligent efforts of the solid waste management entities to divert HHW from municipal solid waste disposed of in landfills, it is estimated that only 3.8 percent of residents statewide participate in HHW collection events or dispose of HHW at HHW permanent facilities. As a result of the failure to divert HHW, it is estimated that 640 tons or more per year of HHW are being disposed of in landfills as municipal solid waste."

EU electronics producers create new "Information for Recyclers" platform
"Easily accessible information about the presence of batteries, printed circuit boards or plastics containing brominated flame retardants in e-waste is what recyclers require," said Pascal Leroy of the WEEE Forum in Recycling Magazine. The EU Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) makes "producers responsible for the organization and/or financing of the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of their products at end of life... and requires producers to provide information free of charge about preparation for re-use and treatment for each type of EEE placed on the market." The WEEE Forum, "an international association of producer responsibility organisations and a centre of competence," will host and maintain the Information for Recyclers Platform (I4R), where recyclers can access recycling information at product category level, "linked to the presence and location of materials and components in electronic waste that require separate treatment."

China tells manufacturers they are responsible for electric vehicle battery recycling
China issued interim rules in February that place the burden to properly recycle batteries from electric vehicles on manufacturers, including establishing maintence facilities for convenient repair or exchange of old batteries; incentives for proper disposal; a tracking system to deter illegal disposal; and training for recycling centers, according to Clean Technica:
"The difference between a managed economy — i.e. China — and a free market economy — i.e. the US — is that a managed economy can eliminate untaxed externalities that allow manufacturers to pass the costs of pollution onto others to bear. In the US model, corporations are free to pump all the pollutants they want into the air, the land, and rivers in order to maximize profits and executive compensation".

Trash in America: Moving from Destructive Consumption to a Zero-Waste System
A new report from US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) on garbage and recycling highlights producer responsibility.

"To protect public health and the environment, conserve natural resources and landscapes, and address the mounting crisis of global warming, America should move toward an economic system characterized by zero waste... Producers have few direct incentives to build products to last, to make them easy to repair, to use less packaging, or to make their goods or packaging easy to reuse, recycle or compost... In fact, it is often beneficial for producers to make goods intended to be used once or temporarily so that consumers continually buy more."

Among the tools to shift to a closed-loop economy that produces zero waste: "Require producers to take more responsibility for their products during their entire life cycle" through a variety of policies and programs at the local, state and national levels.

EU approves new recycling rules
The EU approved new rules with "legally binding targets for waste recycling and the reduction of landfilling with fixed deadlines," including for municipal waste, textiles, hazardous waste, composting, packaging (65% by 2025), and minimum requirements for all extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. The rules are part of the EU waste package to move towards a circular economy. More on the waste directives.

Recycling, China, and EPR

The recycling industry is feeling the effects of China's ban on importing certain recyclables.

Nina Bellucci Butler of MORE Recycling points out that the severe challenges in the recycling field many are now facing are because "the market for recycled materials is broken. We have equated collection with recycling when in reality that is just the first of many steps to ensure complete reabsorption of resources." How do we fund a system sort plastics into discrete resins? "If we fail to reinstitute market development programs and implement the policies necessary to stimulate value in [post-consumer plastic] scrap, plastic will undoubtedly become waste or marine debris."

Kate Bailey of Eco-Cycle Solutions: "The real problem isn’t China. The real problem is that the prolific, ever-increasing production of plastics is choking our planet, our oceans and our bodies. Recyclers did not create the plastic waste crisis—the plastics industry did, and it's time we said enough is enough."

The Statesman Journal quotes Oregon DEQ's Peter Spendelow: "we must insist that if manufacturers want to sell their products in environmentally unfriendly containers, they must have an efficient system for collecting the empty plastic. This ‘product stewardship’ will let us ‘recycle smarter.’"

Regarding extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging, a 2017 Connecticut task force studied strategies for reducing consumer packaging that generates solid waste. They considered but rejected the option of a producer responsiblity system similar to British Columbia's Recycle BC EPR for packaging and printed paper, instead recommending tax incentives, public-private partnerships, evaluation of mixed-waste processing, and utilization of unclaimed bottle deposits to fund waste-reduction initiatives.

Recycle BC, the nonprofit stewardship organization which manages the producer funded packaging EPR system in British Columbia, is weathering the China ban better than some, with local processing capacity. Recycle BC's managing director, Allen Langdon, spoke on Roundhouse Radio Vancouver about the BC system, "where producers of packaging are actually paying to manage this themselves instead of local government." Langdon will be the keynote speaker at the May 2018 Washington State Recycling Association conference.

Upcoming Events

  • International Stewardship Forum: April 4-5, Sydney, Australia
  • 1st Latex Paint Recycling event in King County: April 14, 9am-2:59pm, Kirkland, WA
  • National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: April 28, 10am-2pm nationwide
  • Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) annual conference: May 20-23, 2018
  • Sustainable Oregon, Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) annual conference: June 13-15, 2018

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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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