NWPSC June 2019 Newsletter

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June 2019


Washington passes two product stewardship lawssigning photo of paint stewardship bill May 9, 2019
Washington's 2019 legislative session finished on-time this year while also passing two product stewardship laws!

HB 1652 Paint stewardship: After eight years of testimony from supporters, paint stewardship passed and was signed into law on May 9. The law's effective date is July 28, 2019. Read the joint press release from PSI, ACA, NWPSC, and Zero Waste Washington.
Key dates:

  • By July 28, 2020, submit stewardship plan for Ecology's approval: a stewardship organization representing producers shall submit a plan for the implementation of a paint stewardship program to the Dept. of Ecology for approval within one year of the law's effective date. (Sec. 4)
  • Nov. 30, 2020 program start: a stewardship organization shall implement the paint stewardship program plan by Nov. 30, 2020, or within six months after approval of a paint stewardship program plan, whichever is later. (Sec. 5)

SB 5397 Plastic packaging stewardship: After negotiation, this study bill passed and was signed into law May 21. The law's effective date is July 28, 2019. Read the press release from Zero Waste Washington (PDF).
Key dates:signing photo of plastic packaging stewardship study bill, May 21, 2019

  • Study and report due to the Legislature by Oct. 31, 2020: Dept. of Ecology must contract with a third-party independent consultant to evaluate and assess the amount and types of plastic packaging sold into the state as well as the management and disposal of plastic packaging, and submit a report to the appropriate committees of the legislature. The report must include:
    • Findings regarding amount and types of plastic packaging sold into the state as well as the management and disposal of plastic packaging
    • Recommendations to meet the goals of reducing plastic packaging, including through industry initiative or plastic packaging product stewardship, or both, to:
      • Achieve 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging in all goods sold in Washington by Jan. 1, 2025;
      • Achieve at least 20% postconsumer recycled content in packaging by Jan. 1, 2025;
      • Reduce plastic packaging
    • Options to meet plastic packaging reduction goals, that are capable of being established and implemented by Jan. 1, 2022.
  • This chapter in Title 70 RCW expires July 1, 2029.

Oregon product stewardship bills (session runs through June)
All three product stewardship bills have passed out of policy committees; for more read the Association of Oregon Recycler's legislative update.

  • Household hazardous waste (HHW) stewardship HB 2772: passed the Energy and Environment committee and referred to Ways & Means
  • Mattress stewardship SB 276: passed the Environment and Natural Resources committee and referred to Ways & Means
  • Medicine stewardship HB 2065: passed the Committee on Health Care and referred to Ways & Means

Vermont passes sweeping single-use plastics ban
On May 22, the Vermont legislature passed S.113, an act relating to the management of single-use products, according to an article in Resource Recycling. If signed into law by the Governor, the bill would ban "plastic bags, expanded polystyrene food service containers and plastic stir sticks," place a 10-cent charge on paper bags to be retained by the retailer, and create a working group to "explore ways to improve management of single-use products, including extended producer responsibility (EPR)." The ban would go into effect July 1, 2020.

Programs & News

LightRecycle Washington updatelogo of LightRecycle Washington
In 2018, Washingtonians recycled 1,271,304 mercury-containing lights, weighing almost 600,000 pounds, via LightRecycle Washington. LightRecycle, a manufacturer operated product stewardship program run by nonprofit Product Care Recycling 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.

Regulations, oversight, and lessons learned from Total Reclaim
Owners of Total Reclaim, the oldest and largest Seattle-area electronics recycler, were sentenced to prison for "conspiracy to commit wire fraud." According to the U.S. Attorney's news release, Total Reclaim's fraud "includes lies to customers and auditors, the falsification of hundreds of documents, millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, and a cover-up after the fraud was discovered. But this offense stands apart from the typical fraud because the greatest damage is not measured in dollars and cents. Rather, it lies in the health consequences that resulted from defendants’ calculated choice to prioritize their own economic well-being over the health of faceless foreign workers."

Unlike Europe, Canada, and most OECD nations, the U.S. has not ratified the U.N. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The "Basel Convention" is an international trade agreement that restricts the trade of hazardous wastes (including electronic wastes) between more developed countries and less developed countries. Since the U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention, we are forced to rely on other means to ensure that electronics recycling is done in a way that is protective of human health and the environment – both here in the U.S. and in other nations.

BAN, the Basel Action Network, has been sounding the alarm on e-waste for years. Their 2002 documentary Exporting Harm was a wake-up call to the dangers of exporting electronics for recycling. Their e-Stewards standard remains the strongest, cleanest responsible electronics recycling certification program in the U.S. But how many electronics recyclers in the U.S. are members of e-Stewards or adhere to the Standard? Or a lesser standard, or no recycling standard at all?

25 states have electronics recycling laws, though none come close to the program implemented in the state of Washington. The authors of the Washington state electronics stewardship law worked tirelessly to require stringent standards for the recycling program, but due to provisions in the interstate commerce clause, were unable to restrict the export of electronic equipment and were unable to require that recycling be done in our own country. Instead, the electronics producers who pay for the E-Cycle Washington EPR program decided, voluntarily, to require the recyclers in their program to meet the "Preferred Performance Standards" for recycling electronic equipment.

These standards (PDF) provide an additional layer of oversight beyond what is required by existing state and federal law for recycling electronics – requiring annual independent third party audits; requiring that downstream vendors conform with all of the performance standards; and requiring that each transit and recipient country legally accept imports of such materials of concern.

In the absence of strong federal and international oversight, the lesson to be learned from Total Reclaim is the importance of downstream due diligence – not only for electronics but for other recyclable materials as well. The U.S. can and should do better in protecting human health and the environment.

Basel Convention will control plastic waste trade
On May 10, plastic was officially added to the Basel Convention, a treaty that controls the movement of hazardous waste between countries. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, plastic waste that is contaminated will be treated as “hazardous material” rather than “solid plastic waste.” It will require prior consent from receiving countries before waste is allowed for export. Clean plastic waste, almost exclusively consisting of one resin, will still be allowed for export if it is “destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner and almost free from contamination.” — via EPI newsletter. Read more from Resource Recycling, Basel changes may have bigger impact than China ban, and BAN's press release.

Recycled paint manufacturers form first association for burgeoning industry
April 1, Product Stewardship Institute and IPRA press release: "An alliance of North American recycled paint manufacturers has launched the International Paint Recycling Association (IPRA) to promote the quality, availability, and value of recycled latex paint.
IPRA is the first organization to represent the recycled paint industry, which over the past two decades has recycled more than 30 million gallons of unused household latex paint into first-rate coatings for residential and commercial markets. Twelve founding members with operations in more than 20 states and multiple Canadian provinces are combining their experience and expertise to highlight the role of recycled paint as a key component of the circular economy for architectural coatings. About 10% of all paint purchased in the U.S. – about 78 million gallons per year – goes unused. About 80% of this paint is latex (water based), which can be turned into high quality recycled paint for use in a wide range of interior and exterior applications."

EPR, Packaging, and Plastics

Here's how to fix recycling
May 1, Global News: Third of a three-part series by Carolyn Jarvis and Megan Robinson investigating the state of Canada’s recycling industry and the system in British Columbia called Recycle BC. Recycle BC is a non-profit organization made up of nearly 1,300 companies — including Apple Canada, Boston Pizza, Procter & Gamble and Loblaw — which carries out residential recycling in the province.

"This is the future of recycling. Not because of what’s happening here — but because of who is doing it.
Anyone in B.C. who makes a product, sells a product or imports a product that’s collected in a blue bin has to pay to recycle its packaging. The province is the only jurisdiction in North America that is both funding and managing its entire recycling system — instead of leaving that responsibility to municipalities and their taxpayers.
The model is called “extended producer responsibility,” or EPR, and it’s regulated under a provincial law that came into force in B.C. in 2014."

“EPR is really about saying, ‘You made this, you’re responsible for it at its end of life,’” explained Usman Valiante, a senior environmental policy analyst with Cardwell Grove.
“You chose the raw materials to use in your product or packaging… Now, we want you to take the responsibility that once the consumer’s done with that soft drink bottle or that potato chip bag, that you set up a system to take responsibility to pull that stuff back from consumers… So you might then take that material yourself and put it back into the next cycle of soft drink bottles or potato chip bags,” Valiante said.

"And the success is evident.
At 69%, B.C.’s recycling rate is the highest recorded in the country. Recycle BC is accepting more items in its blue bins while other municipalities in Canada are cutting down, and it has dedicated plants that take products like shopping bags and berry and pastry containers, which recyclers in other parts of the country have stopped accepting or are paying to get rid of."

"In 2018, China banned much of the world’s recycling, sending the global industry into turmoil. But according to the chair of Recycle BC, John Coyne, the impact was “moderate to minimal” in B.C.
Producers are also motivated to use packaging that’s more easily recycled. For example, package your eggs in a paper carton and you’ll pay 25 cents a kilogram to recycle it. Package them in polystyrene — commonly known as Styrofoam — and you’ll pay 100 cents a kilogram."

"The ultimate goal of the EPR model is for producers who currently make packaging that can’t be recycled to change its design into something that is.
“So it may be to say… ‘This product doesn’t make sense the way that it is currently, and so we should move to a different design,’” said Peter Hargreave, president of the waste management consulting firm Policy Integrity."

A Vision for a Circular Economy for Plastics in Canada
This February 2019 report by Usman Valiante for Smart Prosperity Institute provides a vision and roadmap for converting our approach to plastics from a take-make-waste to a circular economy, characterized by a flow of materials in a closed loop. Value is returned into the cyclical, productive system, rather than wasted. And the report explores the role of EPR to achieve this vision.

"Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) assigns producers the property rights for the end-of-life wastes associated with their products and packaging and requires them to meet collection and recycling performance standards for those wastes. As such, it requires producers to establish reverse supply chains (either directly or through commercial arrangements with third parties) to collect, process and market their products or packaging.
EPR is performance-based regulation that “specifies required outcomes or objectives, rather than the means by which they must be achieved”.

"EPR is also a market-based policy instrument. In an openly competitive market, end-of-life management costs become yet another cost of business providing producers with an incentive to reduce those costs through efficiency. Such efficiency may be gained through product redesign (i.e. reduction or to enable systems of reuse), the adoption of existing waste management best practices, or through investment in new and innovative technologies and practices to reduce, collect, reuse and recycle producers’ wastes."

It is "both ineffective and inefficient" when municipalities operate individual recycling systems “with little or no coordination with other municipal recycling systems and with no connection to the producers whose packaging they manage... As such, each municipality is left to address the changing packaging mix and commodity market realities within its own system."

The Recycle BC extended producer responsibility program has "induced $20 million in capital investments in the recycling of PPP (a significant portion of which is plastic recycling related), expanded the types of plastics collected, and lowered contamination of collected materials, while concurrently insulating both producers and BC municipalities from commodity risks posed by the closure of Asian secondary plastics markets."

West Coast Refuse and Recycling Coalition report on packaging EPR was misleading
In the April 9 issue of Resource Recycling, David Lefebvre of Recycle BC responded to the April 2 article, Report says Canadian packaging EPR is failing to deliver:

"Claims that the Recycle BC program lacks transparency are unfounded. All of the program’s published financial and recycling data is subject to third-party audit and assurance as required by the provincial government. Further, nearly two-thirds of the report’s citations reference public information provided by Recycle BC and its partner Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, including reports on stakeholder consultations on the Recycle BC program plan, providing further evidence of the program’s transparency to stakeholders.
The first five years of Recycle BC’s operation have demonstrated that EPR is an effective and efficient approach to the management of packaging and paper products. The program is committed to continued improvement that will provide value and results for all its stakeholders"

Norway recycles 97% of its plastic bottles
February 26, Positive News: At the Infinitum bottle deposit hub, "a startling 97% of all plastic drinks bottles in Norway are recycled – and 92% of these to such a high standard that they are used to make more bottles. Some bottles have been recycled more than 50 times already.
This is because the system is strictly controlled: glue, cap and even label materials are checked and a small amount of virgin material is added. As its name suggests, the team at Infinitum wants to create a never-ending loop of plastic reuse.

"The Norwegian system – simple yet impressive – relies on two key incentives. First, the more companies recycle, the less tax they have to pay. If they reach a collective nationwide target of more than 95%, then they don’t pay any tax at all – that’s been the case every year since 2011. Second, customers must pay a deposit for each bottle, usually the equivalent of between 10p and 25p. This encourages a fundamental change of thinking in citizens: that, while the product inside is to be consumed, the bottles are on loan and so need to be returned.

"Add to the picture the great ease with which bottles can be returned at hundreds of thousands of ‘reverse vending machines’ and you begin to understand Norway’s success on this front.
Compare the country’s plastic bottle recycling rate of more than 97% with 43% in the UK and 28% in the US, and it’s clear how much there is to be learned..."

"Norway will still be challenged by the effects of oil consumption, as the rest of the world will be. But we’re not trying to reduce the use of plastic – we’re trying to reduce the creation of new, virgin plastic. Each year we get closer. If everyone returned all of the bottles they use, the production of virgin plastic would drop by 90%. Persuading people would be near impossible. But for now, the global economy is heavily reliant on plastic – from the food industry, to transport and technology. Norway shows the world a way to use it in the least damaging and most efficient terms imaginable. There’s potential here: there is no other way to package it."

Upcoming Events

  • Update on Global Packaging EPR (webinar): June 11, 8-9am Pacific
  • Plastics News Live: Legislative and Regulatory Trends (webinar): June 19, 11am Pacific
  • Sustainable Oregon 2019 (AOR): June 19-21, 2019, Bend, OR
  • International Stewardship Forum (Global Product Stewardship Council): July 2-3, Paris, France
  • Bottle Bills - benefits and challenges (webinar): July 17, 10:30am-12pm Pacific
  • California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual conference: Aug. 11-14, Rancho Mirage, CA
  • US Regulatory Approaches to Packaging (webinar): September 11, 10:30am-12pm Pacific
  • Coast Waste Management Association (CWMA) annual conference: Oct. 23-25, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Conference on Canadian Stewardship: Nov. 5-7, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • North American Hazardous Material Management Association (NAHMMA) NW Chapter conference: Fall 2019, TBD

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