NWPSC January 2019 Newsletter

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January 2019


Washington Legislature begins January 14 and Oregon's begins Jan. 22, 2019NWPSC video: problem with plastic packaging, EPR is a solution
Washington's legislature will consider plastic packaging stewardship, paint stewardship, and right to repair (fair repair) legislation – watch the NWPSC's new video (YouTube) on the problem with plastic packaging and how EPR is a solution.
A plastic bag ban bill is also expected, according to Zero Waste Washington. Read about Washington's 4 existing product stewardship programs (electronics, mercury lights, medicines, and solar panels).

Oregon's legislature will consider EPR for household hazardous waste (HHW), medicines stewardship, and mattress stewardship bills.

EPR, Packaging, and Plastics

Fossil fuel industry worsening the global plastics crisis
December 21, Teen Vogue: "The global plastics crisis... is far greater than a consumer-behavior issue, like recycling: It is directly connected to the fossil fuel industry and to climate change, as 99% of plastics are derived from chemicals found in fossil fuels. Despite a recent United Nations climate report that says we only have 12 years to radically transform our entire economy to prevent the worst possible impacts of climate change, plastic production is set to ramp up, tripling the amount of plastic exports by 2030."

EU agrees to unprecedented cuts to single-use plasticsplastic dragon action in Brussels (EEB)
December 19, Zero Waste Europe: The European Union has agreed upon laws to slash single-use plastics, including bans on "single-use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates, cutlery, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics, and expanded polystyrene food containers and beverage cups."
All beverage bottles must have 30% recycled content by 2030. Also included is extended producer responsibility (EPR) for plastic cigarette filters ("big tobacco pays"), fishing gear, and certain single-use packaging by 2023: manufacturers will pay the costs of waste management, clean up and awareness-raising for certain single-use plastics.
"Member States will have two years to transpose it into national laws, which should come into force at the beginning of 2021 at the latest." Read the press release from the European Commission and more from the European Environmental Bureau.

UK packaging producers to pay full recycling costs under waste scheme
December 17, The Guardian: "Retailers and producers of packaging will be forced to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling it under the [UK] government’s new waste strategy...

The British environment secretary said, "Together we can move away from being a throwaway society to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource. We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste."

"This type of system is already in place in other European countries such as Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands."
The UK strategy states: "Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a powerful environmental policy approach through which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-use stage. This incentivises producers to design their products to make it easier for them to be re-used, dismantled and/or recycled at end of life.
It has been adopted in many countries around the world, across a broad range of products, to deliver higher collection, recycling and recovery rates."

The answer to plastic pollution is to not create waste in the first place
December 26, The Guardian: "Even before China’s waste ban took effect, only 9% of plastic in the US was actually recycled. No matter how diligently Americans sort their plastic waste, there is just too much of it for the US, or any other country, to handle... Instead of coming up with increasingly complicated and expensive ways to deal with plastic waste, why not focus on preventing it from being made in such large quantities in the first place? We simply need less plastic in the world...
In addition to bans and fees on problematic products and packaging, several cities are also pursuing legislation that would force companies to pay for managing the waste created by their products instead of foisting disposal costs onto the consumer, thereby motivating them to change their manufacturing and delivery systems to eliminate or drastically minimize waste.
This holiday season, the greatest gift manufacturers can give consumers is the option to buy their products without ending up with a recycling bin full of single-use plastic packaging destined for the burner or the dump. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. China’s National Sword policy gives us the opportunity to kick our society’s plastic habit once and for all and to put pressure on those most responsible for it: not consumers, not cities, but producers."

Recology prepared to fund signature gathering to put plastics policy on California ballot
December 24, San Francisco Chronicle: The president and CEO of Recology, Inc., an employee-owned company providing waste and recycling services in California, Oregon, and Washington wrote that if "the plastics industry is unable to step forward with a set of policies and programs that reverses these unfortunate trends, Recology will work to place a comprehensive policy on the next statewide California ballot — building off the EU model. We are prepared to commit $1 million toward a signature-gathering effort to that end and will work with all who are willing to move this effort forward. With plastics, as with so much else, California may need to lead the way."

Municipalities struggle with increased recycling costs
January 6, CBC: "The recycling market has become more saturated, forcing municipalities to change what they collect..."

"One solution to the region's recycling woes could be an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program, which makes the producer responsible for a portion of the financial costs of a product's life cycle. Most provinces in Canada have EPR programs, though Alberta has not yet implemented one."

Seidel sees EPR as something that can alleviate some financial pressures on municipalities, which are forced to spend time and money to find places to send their plastic, cardboard or paper recyclables... municipalities should not be forced to pony up for recycling costs.
"At the end of the day, it's going to be the municipalities that realize they should not be the ones holding the bag, not just on cost but on the responsibility of making sure this material is properly handled," she said. "They shouldn't be the ones that are held at ransom and have to find markets for materials that are very difficult to handle. That really should be the industry, and that's where the EPR comes in."
Seidel said the days of blue bins being catch-alls for Albertans are over. "We've made it almost too easy on all residents in the past. In reality, the most important thing is to make recycling effective."

The blight of Tetra Paks covering Vietnam's beaches and towns
December 9, The Guardian: "Milk consumption in Vietnam has almost doubled in the past 10 years, as the dairy industry shifts its focus from “saturated” western markets in favour of Asian expansion and is now valued at $4.1bn (£3.1bn). But one of the biggest beneficiaries of this growth seems to be the dairy industry’s principal packaging supplier, Tetra Pak. Last year, 8.1bn of Tetra Pak’s individual cartons were sold across Vietnam. Yet a comprehensive country-wide recycling programme is yet to be implemented. Now, as cartons pile up on beaches and in landfills up and down the country, that’s having a devastating effect on the environment...
Tetra Pak told the Guardian that they are recycling 18,000 metric tonnes of cartons a year, with 93,000 packs per tonne, which would mean that they are currently recycling about 20% of their output..."

"Recycling Tetra Pak cartons is possible, but only if you have the right systems and technology in place. In the past, we bought Tetra Pak waste directly from Tetra Pak, and we also bought milk cartons from informal collectors and litter pickers across the country. But the latter has proved financially ineffective, and it was impossible for us to make a profit," according to the carton recycling plant manager.
These days, the Dong Tien plant only accepts waste materials sent directly by the Tetra Pak-affiliated dairy companies themselves. “Between 30% and 50% of the product is aluminium and plastic, and the rest is paper,” says Quyet Tien. “But it’s not simply a matter of mashing the cardboard down or melting the plastic – we have to extract each separate layer and treat them all in different ways.” The process still isn’t cost-effective he says, but it’s their social responsibility to do what they can to help the environment – even if it’s not enough. "We’d love to be able to recycle the cartons that people use and throw away afterwards – I’m sure many recycling plants would – but we get very little support from Tetra Pak themselves and we’re not a charity."

"The result? A country festooned with empty milk cartons. You’ll see clusters outside primary schools and nurseries: one million primary school children get a free carton of sweetened milk at school every day, thanks to a Tetra Pak-supported governmental project. A waste education programme is being piloted in 30 kindergartens, but what happens to the five million cartons at the end of each school week still depends on the institution. "We try to use as many cartons as we can for our arts and crafts lessons," says Phung Thi Dung, 38, who has been working as a primary school teacher in the Ba Ria province for ten years. "But the rest just get thrown away. I’m not sure where they end up."

Plastic or Planet?
National Geographic has created a Plastic or Planet series, a "multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis... find out what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics and take your pledge."

News & Resources

PaintCare grants for latex paint recycling
The PaintCare Innovative Recycling Grant Competition to "identify and help develop the best ideas for recycling leftover latex paint" is open to applications from either individuals or organizations located in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia until March 22, 2019; grants to be awarded "by April 30." Acccording to Waste360 "PaintCare will conduct three separate competitions using funding from the PaintCare recycling programs currently operating in California, Colorado and Connecticut. The winner of each competition will be awarded a grant of up to $100,000 for a technology that is expected to return benefits to the state that contributed the funding." PaintCare is the nonprofit paint stewardship organization which operates programs in 8 states and DC.

Carpet recycling grants from CARE in California
Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), the carpet stewardship organization operating California's carpet stewardship program, has grants open: Cycle 3A (Capital Improvement – due Jan. 18, 2019) as well as Cycle 2M (collections and reuse microgrants), which "will accept applications through 2019 and the application is quite short with a one-page excel budget sheet... scroll down to Cycle 2M, about halfway down CARE's grants page."

Jobs at GAIA
GAIA is hiring a US Program Director as well as a Global Plastic Policy Advisor to "support the movement against plastic pollution in key national and international (UN) policy spaces, via the provision of science and technical expertise, and support for the development of a collaborative, proactive, and interconnected government and corporate-facing strategy" due Jan. 13, 2019. GAIA is a "worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration."

Upcoming Events

  • Sustainable Packaging Coalition Impact 2019: April 1-4, 2019, Seattle, WA
  • Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) annual conference: April 28 - May 1, 2019, Spokane, WA
  • SWANA Pacific Northwest Symposium 2019: April 30 - May 2, 2019, Richmond, BC
  • Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC) Annual Zero Waste Conference: May 8-10, 2019, Whistler, BC
  • Sustainable Oregon 2019 (AOR): June 19-21, 2019, Bend, OR
  • California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual conference: Aug. 11-14, 2019, Rancho Mirage, CA
  • Coast Waste Management Association (CWMA) annual conference: Oct. 23-25, 2019, Victoria, British Columbia
  • North American Hazardous Material Management Association (NAHMMA) NW Chapter conference: Fall 2019, TBD

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