NWPSC February 2019 Newsletter

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February 2019


Washington product stewardship bills (session runs to April 22)NWPSC video: problem with plastic packaging, EPR is a solution

Plastic packaging stewardship: a substitute SB 5397 passed out of committee, a second substitute bill was heard in Way & Means and awaits a vote (Friday March 1 deadline).
Resource Recycling and National Law Review covered Washington's plastic packaging stewardship bill while Waste Dive also covered a competing but very different bill that did not make it out of committee.

Paint stewardship: HB 1652 passed out of committee, was referred to Appropriations and awaits a hearing date and vote to be scheduled (March 13 deadline).

Fair repair of electronics (aka right to repair): HB 1342 passed out of committee, was referred to Rules, and awaits a House floor vote (March 13 deadline).

Oregon product stewardship bills (session runs through June)

EPR, Packaging, and Plastics

Industry-funded program increases recycling and frees up resources
January 14, Resource Recycling: Recycle BC, a nonprofit industry association, operates British Columbia’s packaging and paper product extended producer responsibility (EPR) program. Begun in 2014, Recycle BC has about 1,100 member companies and is "fully responsible for the delivery and financing of the recycling program" – from outreach and education to collection, processing and marketing of collected materials.

Funded by industry-paid fees, "in 2017, this pot of money totaled 86 million Canadian dollars ($65 million). Companies generally recoup this money through a cost internalization model in which the recycling cost is included in the price the consumer pays for the product. Typically... it’s less than 1 Canadian cent per product."

The City of Vancouver "divested of its recycling services" and transitioned collection service to Recycle BC, which contracted collection service with a local hauling company. "The city has seen a number of benefits from transitioning over to Recycle BC-managed collection. The financial burden for managing collection was relieved... the department was able to redirect staff and resources from recycling into other programs and expand services in litter, abandoned waste and street cleaning collection. Municipal officials no longer have to spend so much time worrying about the effects of global shifts on commodity values.
Switching has also improved diversion... They have achieved a 92% recycling rate of what they collect, and our residents have enjoyed more services."

Oregon bottle deposit system hits 90%
January 18, Oregon Public Broadcasting: "Oregon’s bottle deposit system is recycling more containers than ever before despite major disruptions in global recycling markets. Last year, Oregon recycled 90% of the beverage containers covered by its bottle deposit system... from 64% just two years ago and the total number of bottles recycled reached an all-time high of 2 billion in 2018.

The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs the state’s bottle deposit system, said the program isn’t suffering from the same problems as curbside recycling: because they "deal only in glass, plastic, aluminum, with very few exceptions we have a very clean recycling product, which makes it easier to sell and recycle domestically."

The new numbers reflect the recent expansion of the program to include more types of beverage containers... as well as an increase in the deposit value from 5 cents to 10 cents. Peter Spendelow with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said the success of the bottle deposit system proves that deposits can work to incentivize proper recycling, but it isn’t the solution for everything that’s going in curbside bins."

Oregon recently commemorated their passage of the first bottle bill in the U.S. in 1971 with a new sculpture.

Despite the crisis, don't lose faith in recycling
February 23, Sydney Morning Herald: "China’s National Sword policy, last February, to restrict imports of some recyclables set off a chain reaction that exposed how vulnerable our system is, and should have delivered an important wake-up call to governments. Unfortunately, 12 months on, we are in the midst of another recycling crisis.

To reduce the amount of waste generated we need to look upstream to designers and producers of goods and require them to minimise their waste and maximise use of recycled content. The federal government has a key role to play. Mandatory product stewardship schemes should be introduced that require producers to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products. This approach would align with the polluter-pays principle and provides an important incentive for producers to change their ways...

Equally, or possibly even more critical, is investment in market development for new recycling industries and technologies that reduce our dependence on offshore reprocessing and create local demand for recycled content."

Founders of plastic waste alliance investing billions in new plants
January 21, The Guardian: "A majority of the firms which announced this week they were collaborating to try to help tackle plastic pollution are likely to be at the heart of a global boom in plastic production over the next 10 years.

Together the companies have committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling, with an aspiration to raise that to $1.5bn if more members join. But most of the founding firms have tens of billions of dollars riding on the need for global plastic production to continue growing over the next decade and more. The founding members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste include: BASF, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, Procter & Gamble, Shell..."

Why stop at plastic bags and straws? The case for a global treaty banning most single-use plastics
February 7, The Conversation: "One attractive strategy is pursuing a legally binding phase-out of most single-use plastics at the global level. This approach makes sense because it would build on current national and municipal efforts to eliminate single-use packaging, and would create opportunities for new small and medium-sized businesses to develop more benign substitutes... About 112 countries, states and cities around the world have already imposed bans on various single-use plastic goods.

Several global bans and product phase-outs offer lessons for a treaty banning single-use plastic goods... The Montreal Protocol shows that bans can work where substitute products are available, but require reliable monitoring and the threat of sanctions to deter cheating. The Stockholm Convention suggests that industries will innovate to meet global production challenges. And struggles to curb the ivory trade offer a cautionary message about allowing exceptions to global bans. The rapid spread of single-use plastic bans shows that enough political support exists to launch negotiations toward a global treaty. Emerging economies such as Kenya that are aggressively tackling the problem are especially well placed to take a lead at the U.N. General Assembly in calling for talks on stemming the tide of plastic pollution."

News & Resources

Product Care rebranding stewardship services
Product Care Association of Canada (PCA), a nonprofit offering stewardship services across nine Canadian provinces, is rebranding as Product Care Recycling. Previously, consumers were able to find information about recycling programs for paint, household hazardous waste (HHW) and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at ReGeneration.ca, and information about light recycling at LightRecycle.ca, while information for industry lived under the Product Care name at ProductCare.org. For ease and consistency for all stakeholders, all of these assets now consolidated under one name and website: ProductCare.org

"In 1994, the province of British Columbia introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations for paint, obligating paint producers (retailers, manufacturers, etc.) to develop recycling processes for their end-of-life products. The regulations were stringent and comprehensive, requiring producers to create collection networks, product transportation systems, processing standards, reporting and auditing practices, public awareness and education strategies, and more. In response, paint producers united to form Product Care (then called Paint Care), a not-for-profit organization that would manage every aspect of the provincial EPR requirements on their behalf, ensuring that its members (aka paint producers) were compliant. Paint Care was a tremendous success, capturing significant volumes of paint in its recycling program. In subsequent years, the company was renamed to Product Care when it expanded throughout Canada, into the United States and added more products to its purview."

Product Care is hiring an Environmental Program Manager position in Vancouver, British Columbia: deadline is Feb. 22, 2019, but applications will be considered as they are received.

Task force recommends improvements to regional recycling system
February 26, King County: The Responsible Recycling Task Force, formed by the King County Solid Waste Division with Seattle Public Utilities, other city governments, and local solid waste processors, developed recommendations based on findings from a recently-completed recycling study. The task force recommends removing plastic bags and film from curbside recycling programs and expanding the Wrap Recycling Action Program, a program that collects these materials at retail locations. Other options are being explored for shredded paper. The task force supports bills proposed in the Washington State Legislature this session to: establish a statewide plastics stewardship program; prohibit single-use plastic carry-out bags statewide; and create a recycling development center in the state to encourage new markets for recycled commodities.

Amazon's new packaging is jamming up recycling centers
February 11, Washington Post: "Over the past year, Amazon has reduced the portion of shipments it packs in its cardboard boxes in favor of lightweight plastic mailers, which enable the retailing giant to squeeze more packages in delivery trucks and planes. “That Amazon packaging suffers from the same problems as plastic bags, which are not sortable in our recycling system and get caught in the machinery,” said Lisa Sepanski, project manager for King County Solid Waste Division, which oversees recycling in King County, Wash., where Amazon is based. “It takes labor to cut them out. They have to stop the machinery.”

Some countries put the onus on companies to take greater financial and management responsibility for their products after consumers have finished using them. In these systems, companies pay fees based on how much waste their products and packaging contribute.
To comply with its legal obligations, Amazon pays these fees in some countries outside the United States. Amazon is already subject to such systems in Canada, according to the nonprofit Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, which supports the programs throughout the provinces."

How plastic is a function of Colonialism
December 21, Teen Vogue: "Perhaps you've heard that the top five countries responsible for most marine plastics are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Some of these countries are also the ones receiving a disproportionate amount of plastic waste from other regions. They also happen to be places where waste systems do not mimic American curb-to-landfill systems.

Disposability is not the result of the bad behavior of some individuals choosing to buy some things and not others. Consumer choice as a concept makes no sense in many places. In Nain [Canada], there is one store. There is one kind of ketchup you can buy. There is one type of lettuce. Both are in plastic packaging because the producers assume that there is a place for that packaging to go. It goes into the dump, where it is usually burned so bears aren't attracted to town, and then the scraps blow into the water. There is no way to behave differently. Bag bans don't eliminate the problem. Degradable plastics made of corn would move the problem onto someone else's land. Shipping Nain's plastics to a recycling plant in Vietnam or even elsewhere in Canada produces pollution and plastic leakage on other lands still."

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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