NWPSC Summer 2019 Newsletter

Header V1

Header V1

Summer 2019

Washington and California legislators talk EPR in SeattleCalifornia CFEE visit to Recycle BC, via Fiona Ma
Washington Senators Das and Carlyle, Representatives Doglio and Fitzgibbon, and a contingent of legislators from California met in Seattle on August 1 to talk about extended producer responsibility (EPR), energy, environment, and the climate work that was achieved this past session. California legislators included Senators Bill Allen, Nancy Skinner and Bob Wieckowski who had just returned from visiting Recycle BC, British Columbia’s packaging and printed paper producer responsibility organization, recycler Merlin Plastics, and an Encorp Return-It beverage container recycling depot.

Members of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council were among those who spoke about Washington's existing EPR programs: E-Cycle Washington, LightRecycle Washington, and the newer programs in the implementation process Safe Medication Return (aka Drug Take Back Act), PV Module Stewardship and Takeback Program, and Paint Stewardship. The Washington Department of Ecology is studying plastic packaging EPR, while the King County - Seattle Responsible Recycling Task Force is also conducting an EPR modeling study for the state of Washington. The Council showed its “EPR is a solution” video and discussed the nuances of Washington’s EPR programs in contrast to California and British Columbia.

The trip, organized by the California Product Stewardship Council with the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy (CFEE), was a great opportunity for the Washington legislators to hear from the experiences of California legislators about how product stewardship is working in their state. [Correction: the NWPSC neglected to note in an earlier version that our friends the California Product Stewardship Council were instrumental in organizing the trip to British Columbia and the great discussion in Seattle that followed; we regret the error.]


Federal proposal to "tackle plastic waste pollution crisis"
In a July press release, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) announced that they plan to introduce comprehensive legislation this fall to tackle the plastic waste crisis. The lawmakers are seeking input from stakeholders by August 21, but "comments submitted after the deadline will continue to be considered as the legislation is refined."

Proposed components of the legislation include extended producer responsibility (EPR) for plastic packaging and products, nationwide container deposit requirements (also known as deposit return systems or bottle bills), carryout bag fee, plastic product bans, labelling requirements, awareness-raising measures, and more.

The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), which represents about 70% of the private sector waste and recycling market, released a statement (PDF) strongly opposing this federal proposal:

"There are better ways to address the issue of reducing plastic waste pollution than by product stewardship (PS) or extended producer responsibility (EPR) financing schemes. PS/EPR only serves to insert the government further economically between citizens, local governments, consumer products manufacturers and packaging companies, and our recycling industry."
The NWRA "believes that we can achieve the same end of reducing plastic waste pollution by encouraging more recycled content in the manufacturing of plastic products, improving products through better consumer product and product packaging designs, and by providing tax and other incentives to promote the development of new domestic markets and increased domestic recycling capacity... Increased public education on what localities’ recycling programs will accept, not a one-size fits all prescription, is the solution."

Meanwhile, Canada announced in June its intention to ban single-use plastics by 2021 and develop consistent EPR programs across the country and set targets for plastics collection, recycling, and recycled content requirements. Recycling Today reported that the Canadian plastics industry "welcome[s] the plans for producer-led extended producer responsibility (EPR) initiatives which will lead to more harmonized collection and help build markets for recycled plastics."

Oregon is sixth state to pass medicine stewardship
In August, the Governor of Oregon signed into law HB 3273, requiring manufacturers of covered drugs to develop and implement a drug take-back program by July 1, 2021, and submit plans for participating in a program by Nov. 1, 2020. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, Oregon is the sixth state to require manufacturers to fund and safely manage drug take-back, preceded by Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, New York, and California.

Plastic packaging bills in California
Resource Recycling on the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act: "A pair of California bills taking aim at single-use plastic packaging are getting close to the governor’s desk... SB 54 and AB 1080 would require CalRecycle to draft and implement a host of regulations addressing single-use packaging. Among the major provisions in the legislation, CalRecycle is directed to adopt regulations to “require manufacturers and retailers of single-use packaging to source reduce single-use packaging to the maximum extent feasible,” as well as to require them to “ensure that all single-use packaging in the California market is recyclable or compostable.”"

Programs & News

Canadian manufacturers might be better at recycling than municipalities
In August, the "province of Ontario, Canada, announced it is adopting extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation to shift operating costs for its Blue Box [curbside recycling] Program from municipal taxpayers to the producers of products and packaging collected through the program. Stewardship Ontario must submit its plan to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) for approval no later than June 30, 2020, and the program will transition to producer responsibility in phases over a three-year period, starting in 2023. The Ontario Environment Minister told CBC that "recycling rates in the province have been stalled for 15 years" and that this producer responsibility change would "reduce waste and save municipalities millions of dollars each year."

Plastic industry major economic driver in Canada — far greater than recycling
Covering a report to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Economic Study of the Canadian Plastic Industry, Markets and Waste, the Times Colonist wrote that the "analysis of Canada’s plastic industry shows the industry producing plastic dwarfs the industry trying to recycle it... Generally, it is cheaper and easier to produce new plastic, use it and then throw it away than it is to recycle, reuse or repair it. The voluntary standards for contents of plastic products, and additives like glues and labels, mean there is a lack of consistency in the plastic materials available for recycling. That, in turn, makes them more expensive to recycle." The report said that "zero plastic waste cannot be achieved without concurrent, strategic interventions by government, industry stakeholders and the public across each stage of the plastic lifecycle and targeted at sectors" and recommended five sets of interventions, including "Create sector-specific requirements for collection (e.g., extended producer responsibility, performance agreements)."

California finalizing medicine and sharps EPR program
SB 212, passed in 2018, "established a uniform take-back program to provide safe and convenient disposal statewide of medication and sharps. The program requires the manufacturers of needles and medications to provide for disposal and the program’s promotion. This “producer pays” policy approach has been very successfully implemented in Canada, Europe and Mexico for pharmaceuticals and in France for needles. Its success is well-documented." CalRecycle is currently finalizing the regulations and the program will begin sometime in late 2021 or early 2022. However, "there are currently more [medication collection] bins in California communities than ever before. Walgreens has bins throughout California, as do the counties that already passed local ordinances (which SB 212 protected and did not preempt)."

Upcoming Events

  • Household Hazardous Waste Reuse (webinar): September 5, 9-10am Pacific
  • US Regulatory Approaches to Packaging (webinar): September 11, 10:30am-12pm Pacific
  • Pharmaceuticals and Sharps (webinar): October 24, 9-10am Pacific
  • Coast Waste Management Association (CWMA) annual conference: Oct. 23-25, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Conference on Canadian Stewardship: Nov. 5-7, Vancouver, British Columbia

Engage with the Northwest Product Stewardship Counciltwitter icon 30x30
Add your voice and join the Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) as an Associate, Steering, or Community member.
Follow the NWPSC on Twitter (@StewardshipNW) for product stewardship information from Washington, Oregon and elsewhere.

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.

Subscribe to the NWPSC Newsletter and read our past newsletters. For current subscribers: update your email, password, or unsubscribe on the Subscriber Preferences Page (you will need to use your email address to log in). If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please visit subscriberhelp.govdelivery.com.