NWPSC November 2020 Newsletter

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November 2020

Jobs in Recycling and Product Stewardship

PaintCare is hiring two program coordinators for Washington state. Responsibilities will include developing partnerships with program stakeholders and identifying, recruiting, and training paint drop-off locations. PaintCare is the non-profit stewardship organization which operates statewide paint recycling programs on behalf of paint manufacturers.

The Washington Materials Management and Financing Authority (WMMFA) has an opening for an assistant executive director. The WMMFA is the manufacturer board-directed authority created by state law to handle the recycling of certain electronics in the state of Washington under the E-Cycle Washington program.

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is hiring a Managing Director for Policy and Programs.

The Washington State Dept. of Ecology is hiring for multiple positions, including the E-Cycle Washington electronics stewardship program, and the recently created Recycling Development Center:

EPR, Packaging, and Plastics

WSRA's Tour of Recycle BClogo of Recycle BC
On October 27, the Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) in partnership with Washington Beverage Association and Zero Waste Washington, hosted a virtual tour of the Recycle BC Packaging and Paper Product (PPP) extended producer responsibility (EPR) program, with Recycle BC staff and Washington State legislators. Recycle BC is the non-profit organization which operates the residential recycling system in British Columbia on behalf of 1300 companies who fund it, including Apple Canada, Boston Pizza, Procter & Gamble and Loblaw. Watch the tour recording (YouTube) and find the presentation slides on WSRA's website.

Oregon and Washington develop recycling solutions
In light of the challenges facing recycling systems, both Oregon and Washington are concluding study and engagement processes regarding packaging and printed paper (PPP), both of which are expected to introduce legislation in 2021.

The Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) convened a Recycling Steering Committee (RSC) to "consider alternatives and ultimately recommend a path forward to modernize our recycling system. After two years of hard work, the RSC recommended a holistic shared responsibility framework that addresses the challenges in our decades-old recycling system and creates an effective, stable and resilient system for the future." In September, the Oregon RSC released a recommended concept for modernizing Oregon's recycling system (PDF), which includes a statewide EPR system for consumer brands and packaging producers.

As a result of the plastic packaging study bill Washington state passed in May 2019, the Washington plastic packaging report and recommendation was sent to the legislature by October 31. The study focused on the amount and types of plastic packaging produced in Washington or transported into the state; the cost of managing plastic packaging waste for businesses, local governments, and ratepayers; where Washington's plastic packaging winds up; and estimating what kind of infrastructure Washington needs to manage its plastic packaging. The report, fact sheets, and summaries are available on the Dept. of Ecology's plastic packaging website.

Transforming the Pacific Northwest's waste and recycling systemCSI report cover image
In May 2020, the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) released a report, From Waste Management to Clean Materials, A 2040 Blueprint for PNW Leadership, a "blueprint for the Pacific Northwest to transform its increasingly outdated solid waste management system by 2040, at a time when waste leaders are grappling with the most profound set of challenges they have faced in forty years." The report "proposes that Oregon and Washington policymakers build on the best of EPR recycling programs in BC and elsewhere, to adopt more comprehensive, next-generation EPR (EPR 2.0) that requires producers not simply to improve recycling," but to optimize continuous improvement. CSI discussed the report in a June 18 webinar / release event (YouTube). Members of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council contributed to the report.

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act
Senator Udall and Representative Lowenthal introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act to the U.S. Congress in February. In an October press release, they welcomed announcements by manufacturers and consumer products companies in support of fees to support recycling, calling it a "big step in the right direction." The legislators cautioned, however, in placing too much of the burden for cleaning up waste on taxpayers instead of on the producers: "Using producer fees—rather than taxpayer dollars—to fix our broken recycling system is a major pillar of our legislation, but it is not the only one. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders, including industry, on the broader comprehensive framework we introduced with the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. Requiring consumer brand companies and manufacturers to take responsibility for their excessive waste is absolutely necessary to tackle the colossal plastic and packaging waste problem that is choking our planet. Now that major industry groups are coming around to this reality, it’s time for Congress to act to fix this wasteful and unsustainable system."

Canada's plan for zero plastic waste by 2030
Canada is planning for "a ban on harmful single-use plastic items where there is evidence that they are found in the environment, are often not recycled, and have readily available alternatives. Based on those criteria, the six items the Government proposes to ban are plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics," as early as December 2021. Canada's integrated waste management approach to plastics includes "improving and expanding extended producer responsibility" as well as making it "consistent, comprehensive, and transparent."

Plastic packaging EPR in Canada
An article in the journal Waste Management examined extended producer responsibility (EPR) and plastic packaging in Canada (Implementation of harmonized EPR strategies to incentivize recovery of single-use plastic packaging waste in Canada). EPR strategies "leverage corporate resources to reduce single-use plastic (SUP) waste generated by consumers," and allow local jurisdictions to "gain greater control over their waste streams." Should Nova Scotia implement EPR, the potential economic benefits for municipalities would be "$14–17 M CAD in estimated savings," improved solid waste management, and increasing recycling rates. Canada has packaging EPR in five provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec) and is under development in New Brunswick. This paper recommends a regional EPR strategy "now that the Canadian federal government has announced a move towards zero plastic waste under the Ocean Plastics Charter."

Plastic pollution in the ocean and EPRlogo of the ocean panel
A May 2020 paper from the Ocean Panel (Leveraging multi-target strategies to address plastic pollution in the context of an already stressed ocean) examined "the leakage of plastics and other pollutants into the ocean and the resulting impacts on marine ecosystems, human health and the economy." Among the paper's "opportunities for action" to "practice radical resource efficiency and recover and recycle the materials we use," are policy recommendations to "implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws; provide incentives for waste segregation and recycling; and strengthen markets for recycled plastics." The paper's authors include Dr. Jenna Jambeck, whose research group focuses on solid waste. Resource Recycling covered the news.

The Plastics Policy Inventory
A policy analysis from Duke University, 20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem: The Plastics Policy Inventory, compiled an "inventory of nearly 300 sub-national, national and international policies instituted between 2000 and mid-2019 to target plastic pollution," and made the entire inventory of policy documents available in a searchable database. The analysis was funded and supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of its work to prevent plastic waste from entering the world’s oceans. Duke discussed the analysis with a webinar panel on June 24, 2020 (YouTube).

Packaging in COVID
In June, more than 100 health experts from around the world wrote in a statement that "reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene," and included a list of best practices for reusable products in retail.
"While ‘it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,’ aerosolized droplets are the only documented method of COVID-19 transmission to date... reuse and refill systems are an essential part of addressing the plastic pollution crisis and moving away from a fossil fuel-based economy."

Also released in June, Reusable Packaging and COVID-19 by ZeroWaste Europe and Reloop Platform analyzed the EU policy landscape and concluded that the "ongoing attempt by industry to delay and weaken the implementation of the SUPD [EU Single-Use Policy Directive] is not based on science, and there is no evidence that single-use packaging contributes to the spread of COVID-19 any less (or more) than their reusable counterpart."

More on plastics in the time of COVID-19:

Programs & News

New Medicine and Paint Stewardship programs to begin
In the coming months, two new statewide producer responsibility programs are set to begin in Washington, and one in Oregon.

The Safe Medication Return program, operated by MED-Project LLC and overseen by the Washington State Dept. of Health, will give residents "free, convenient, and environmentally responsible options for disposing of unwanted medication," funded by drug manufacturers at no cost to taxpayers. And Washington will soon have a statewide paint recycling program, operated by PaintCare and overseen by the Dept. of Ecology, to make it easier for residents and some businesses to recycle their unused and unwanted paint (similar to PaintCare Oregon which has been in operation since 2010).

Likewise, Oregon is concluding rulemaking on its new Drug Take-Back program, passed into law in 2019 and set to begin in July 2021. Oregon residents will be able to return drugs free of charge at participating drop-off sites statewide, as well as by mail.

Carpet stewardship organization struggles to meet recycling target
The California Carpet Stewardship program's 2019 recycling rate was 19%, below the 24%-by-January 2020 requirement set by law. The program is operated by CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort), a stewardship organization formed by carpet manufacturers to fund and run the program, and overseen by CalRecycleResource Recycling covered the news.

Mattress recycling research grants available
The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), the manufacturer-run stewardship organization which operates the Bye Bye Mattress recycling program in Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island, seeks proposals for recycled materials market development (open through 2020) and life cycle analysis of mattress recycling (due by Nov. 6, 2020). MRC, which has recycled 6 million mattresses since its first program began five years ago, invests $1 million annually in recycling research and improvement projects.

Events & Webinars

Upcoming as well as previously recorded product stewardship / EPR webinars of interest:

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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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