NWPSC Summer 2018 Newsletter

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Summer 2018

Survey of Washington product stewardship priorities
The NWPSC surveyed Washington local and state government staff for guidance on product stewardship priorities. The top 5 products / materials that "create concerns at the end-of-life for you and the community you serve" are:

  1. (tied) HHW (Household Hazardous Waste: solvents, pesticides, flammable liquids and other HHW products) and paint (both oil based and latex)
  2. batteries
  3. sharps
  4. #3 - #7 plastic packaging
  5. electronic peripherals (e.g., mice, keyboards, printers)

Respondents similarly ranked these products as "good candidates for product stewardship programs." Other materials which received votes: propane tanks; marine flares; mixed paper, plastic coated paper, aseptic containers and cartons; plastic bags and film; flexible packaging (multi-laminate pouches such as used in e-commerce, or for a wide variety of food packaging); glass; oil; and tires.
The NWPSC has been working with a variety of stakeholders over the past several years, as yet unsuccesfully, to pass legislation for a statewide product stewardship program for paint. 98% responded that the NWPSC should continue to focus on paint product stewardship legislation in 2018.
The NWPSC seeks to work with local government to advance this paint legislation; please contact the NWPSC to find out how you can help.

Programs & Legislation

Paint stewardship saves local government millions of dollars a year
"Wasted paint was about 50% of the volume and cost of household hazardous waste (HHW) programs in California," until paint stewardship legislation passed requiring the paint industry to fund and operate a collection system for unwanted paints. This has led to "better economics and more collection opportunity," according to an article in Waste 360. "Jurisdictions are saving millions of dollars a year in collection and in education to administer the program. Santa Clara County alone saves over $300,000 a year."
PaintCare, the nonprofit created by paint manufacturers, offers 1,775 year-round drop-off sites at hazardous waste facilities and retail sites in the eight U.S. states with legislation and Washington, D.C. More than 27 million gallons of paint have been collected since the program began in 2009. As PaintCare participants, HHWs no longer pay for paint storage bins, transportation, recycling or proper disposal. The owner of a paint recycling business said the "logistics of getting paint to our facility has been vastly improved."
Washington remains the only state on the west coast without such a manufacturer-run paint stewardship program; British Columbia's program began in 1994. The Washington legislature has considered but not passed paint legislation since 2012.

Washington Drug Take Back rulemaking
In March 2018, the Washington legislature passed the nation's first statewide drug take back law, requiring manufacturers to fund and operate a program to safely and securely collect and dispose of unwanted medications. The Department of Health, which oversees the program, is beginning the rulemaking process with workshops for public comment on Aug. 2, Aug. 30, and Sept. 24, 2018.
Writing in NACo news, Margaret Shield said that the medicine producer responsibility law's passage was the "culmination of years of policy work by counties to access safe drug take-back for their residents. The state law was modeled on local ordinances that are proof-of-concept for requiring the pharmaceutical industry to provide convenient take-back options for leftover and expired medicines... After the pharmaceutical industry begins operations of a drug take-back program approved by the state Department of Health, there will be a one-year transition where the county-level programs will merge into the statewide system. Implementation of the state law is underway and expected to result in more convenient drug take-back services across Washington by late 2020."

LightRecycle Washington update logo of LightRecycle Washington
From January through March 2018, Washingtonians recycled 322,893 mercury-containing lights, weighing over 160,000 pounds, via LightRecycle Washington. LightRecycle, a manufacturer operated product stewardship program run by nonprofit PCA Product Stewardship Inc. and overseen by the Washington Department of Ecology, allows individuals and businesses to recycle up to 10 mercury-containing lights per day at sites throughout Washington – find a location near you.

Recycle BC program plan consultation
Recycle BC, the stewardship organization responsible for operating British Columbia's manufacturer funded packaging extended producer responsibility (EPR) program, is in phase 2 of consultation of its revised five year program plan. Recent updates to the draft plan, in response to feedback and the latest developments, include an increased general recovery rate; material-specific targets for plastics, metal, glass, and paper; and a broadened scope of obligated material to include packaging-like products and single-use plastic products such as drinking straws and plastic cutlery. The term "packaging and printed paper" (PPP) has been changed to "packaging and paper product" based on changes to the regulation.

New York enacts Drug Take Back Act into law
New York becomes the second state to enact a medicine stewardship law requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to finance and manage the safe collection and disposal of unused medications; Washington passed similar stewardship legislation in March. Program implementation will begin in mid-2019, according to the Product Stewardship Institute. WENY quoted one of the bill sponsors saying the "law will greatly expand the number of permanent, locally based drop-off locations. It will be a very positive, cost-effective addition to the state's ongoing, overall strategy to protect our communities and local environments."

Two million mattresses recycled by California stewardship program
California's statewide mattress stewardship program, Bye Bye Mattress, which is run by the industry's Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), recycled almost 1.3 million mattresses in 2017, diverting 40 million pounds from landfill, according to their 2017 California annual report. MRC said that Bye Bye Mattress California has collected more than 2 million mattresses since its start in 2016 and anticipates reaching the 3 million mark in 2018. Bye Bye Mattress operates in three states with mattress stewardship laws: CA, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

EPR legislation in the United States
The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) analyzes and tracks extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws and policies, and provides a regular update to its members on active legislation. In 2018, there have been 36 state and local EPR bills that seek to reduce the burden of managing a variety of products at the end of their useful life. PSI members and partners have access to detailed updates and PSI's active legislation webpage - learn more about joining PSI.
PSI, citing the impacts of China Sword on U.S. recycling, is reconvening packaging EPR strategic calls - contact PSI for more information.

EPR, Packaging, and Plastics

More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution
July 6, Scientific American: "It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it's true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it...
Corporate greenwashing… has helped shift the public focus to consumer recycling behavior and actively thwarted legislation that would increase extended producer responsibility for waste management. 
The greatest success of Keep America Beautiful has been to shift the onus of environmental responsibility onto the public while simultaneously becoming a trusted name in the environmental movement. This psychological misdirect has built public support for a legal framework that punishes individual litterers with hefty fines or jail time, while imposing almost no responsibility on plastic manufacturers for the numerous environmental, economic and health hazards imposed by their products.
Effectively, we have accepted individual responsibility for a problem we have little control over. We can swim against this plastic stream with all our might and fail to make much headway. At some point we need to address the source.
Litterbugs are not responsible for the global ecological disaster of plastic.
Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution, despite clear evidence of the harm it causes to local communities and the world’s oceans."

Our plastic pollution crisis is too big for recycling to fix
June 9, The Guardian: "For years, we’ve been conned into thinking the problem of plastic packaging can be solved through better individual action. We’re told that if we simply recycle we’re doing our part. We’re told that if we bring reusable bags to the grocery store, we’re saving the world. We think that if we drink from a reusable bottle, we’re making enough of a difference. But the truth is that we cannot recycle our way out of this mess.
Recycling alone will never stem the flow of plastics into our oceans; we have to get to the source of the problem and slow down the production of all this plastic waste.
We need corporations – those like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Starbucks and Nestlé that continue to churn out throwaway plastic bottles, cups, and straws – to step up and show real accountability for the mess they’ve created. Drink companies produce over 500bn single-use plastic bottles annually; there is no way that we can recycle our way out of a problem of that scale.
Not long ago, we existed in a world without throwaway plastic, and we can thrive that way again. The world’s largest corporations – with all their profits and innovation labs – are well positioned to help move us beyond single-use plastics." – Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA and creator of Story of Stuff

Involve business in ocean plastics pollution issue
July 10, Vancouver Sun: "The [Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna] says she wants business leaders involved when she and her counterparts from other G7 nations gather in Halifax this fall to discuss how to reduce the flow of plastic waste into the oceans.
The minister said she wants to work with provinces, territories and municipalities to draft a national strategy aimed at combatting the plastics problem.
McKenna said plastics producers should also be part of the discussions in late September when she meets in Halifax with her counterparts from Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Germany.
The United States and Japan didn’t sign the so-called Oceans Plastics Charter tabled at the recent G7 meeting...
Louie Porta [of marine conservation organization Oceans North...] said industry must take responsibility for the plastics they produce — referred to as extended producer responsibility: “I hope we're going to see real progress on extended producer responsibility... (with) producers standing behind the products from the beginning to the end, so there is no waste to clean up at the end of the day.”"

A case for producer responsibility
June 5, 2018, Resource Recycling "With so much focus on the recycling crisis, we tend to overlook the root cause of the problem: the glut of short-lived consumer products and packaging.
In the current system, manufacturers who profit from the sale of their wares have little incentive to make durable products or minimal, easily recycled packaging, or to incorporate recycled feedstock in their packaging.
Producers are selling us millions of tons of products for billions of dollars. Most will be disposed within six months. Packaging, alone, accounts for about 30% of our waste and about 60% of our recycling stream.
With help from the consumer product manufacturers that helped to create this crisis, it will be possible to resurrect and revitalize our recycling industry, create domestic markets for its products, and make our disposal system more sustainable."

Rethinking recycling: could a circular economy solve the problem?
July 15, 2018, The Guardian: "With more funding and product stewardship, the recycling crisis could turn into an opportunity."
"There’s nothing like a crisis to spur on the search for a solution.
Since January, when China stopped accepting our contaminated recycling, Australia has been struggling with a waste crisis. While some local councils have tried to adapt their processes, some have been stockpiling recycling while others are sending it straight to landfill. And there’s still no long-term solution in place.
Some of the options discussed so far – such as reforming kerbside recycling or creating a national container deposit scheme – have focused on improving the quality of our recycling. This would bump up its value, reduce the cost and in some cases make it so clean it could sail through China’s strict new contamination rules.
But for campaigners, the crisis could be the ideal opportunity to rethink recycling in Australia and shift away from export altogether. Environmentalists, waste companies and the recent Senate inquiry have argued that we need to invest in the recycling industry, improve product stewardship schemes and move towards a circular economy, where everything we put in our recycling bin is bought and reused within the country."

Upcoming Events

  • California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual conference: July 26-29
  • NAHMMA (North American Hazardous Materials Management Association) NW Chapter conference: September 17-19
  • CWMA (Coast Waste Management Association) annual conference: October 17-19

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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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