NWPSC August Newsletter

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August 2013


Washington Legislation: 2014 Outlook


Amendment to RCW 70.275 Mercury-Containing Lights 

In 2014, an agency-request bill may be introduced to amend the existing law to ensure that the lamp recycling program is fully financed by the producers of mercury-containing lamps. For more information contact Kara Steward.


SB 5424/HB 1579 Paint Stewardship Bills 

The paint stewardship bills introduced last session will carry forward into 2014 since it’s the second year of Washington’s two-year legislative cycle. The American Coatings Association (ACA) is committed to working with Washington stakeholders towards successful passage of this legislation. If stakeholder discussions this summer and fall succeed in addressing remaining concerns, this legislation may get traction.


HB 1364/SB 5457 Rechargeable Battery Stewardship Bills

The rechargeable battery stewardship bills will also carry forward into the second year of the biennium. The NWPSC, Call2Recycle and others are interested in continuing to build a coalition in support of stewardship concepts for batteries in preparation for future legislative sessions.


Oregon Legislation


Paint Stewardship Bill

HB 2048 recently passed by the Oregon Legislature allows Oregonians to return discarded paint to retailers and waste collection programs for proper disposal. The bill makes product stewardship program more convenient for consumers, eliminates 2014 sunset of the program, improves accountability for meeting collection and reporting goals and more. Read the News Release for more information.

Federal Legislation


US Congress to Reconsider E-Scrap Export Ban

Legislation to ban exports on e-scrap has recently been re-introduced into the U.S. Congress. House Resolution 2791, the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA) of 2013, would create new regulations covering the disposal and recycling of used electronics. The bill has support from both sides of the political spectrum, with Republican co-sponsors in Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas). Original Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Thompson, Green and Louis Slaughter (D-New York).


Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Vows to Improve TSCA Reform Bill

In June, Senator Vitter and the late Senator Lautenberg introduced the bi-partisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S. 1009) to reform the federal law on toxic chemicals. A hearing on July 31, 2013 was the first discussion on a path forward since the compromise bill was introduced. Ken Zarker of the Washington Department of Ecology testified in the first panel of the six hour long hearing. Watch video of Mr. Zarker’s testimony beginning about the one hour mark.


CARE Annual Report Now Available

The California Carpet Stewardship Program Annual Report for July 2011- June 2013 from the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is now available. In addition to reporting on progress, the Annual Report has a section on "Looking Forward,” which gives some insights into the next steps for carpet stewardship efforts.


Report looks at EPR and its Impacts on the Existing Recycling Infrastructure

A recent report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Does the Citizens Recycling Movement Face a Hostile Takeover, looks at the potential impacts of EPR programs on existing recycling programs.


Cost-Benefit Study of Extended Producer Responsibility

Recycling Reinvented released the first of three working papers by Reclay StewardEdge, as part of a study to help better understand and evaluate the possible impacts of implementing a state-level EPR system for consumer packaging and printed paper (PPP) in the U.S. This first paper defines the basis of the study design. A new website, MarketBasedRecycling.com, has been created to house all details of the study for more in-depth information (from the Product Policy Institute listserve).


New Book on Zero Waste

The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time by Paul Connett, will be available October 9th from Chelsea Green Publishing. This new book features guest chapters written by Neil Seldman, Dan Knapp, Mary Lou Deventer, Eric Lombardi, Buddy Boyd, Helen Spiegelman, Bill Sheehan, Dan Knapp, Jeffrey Morris, Gary Liss, and Richard Anthony. The book profiles successful zero-waste initiatives and shows how to re-invision waste-handling by consuming less, recycling and reusing, demanding product redesign and composting.


Video Tells the Story of Product Stewardship Using Legos

A video recently produced by students at Archbishop Holgate School in England tells the story of a circular economy in a simple way – using Lego blocks. The video was produced as part of a school competition funded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


Oregon DEQ Seeking Specialist for Oregon E-Cycles

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is recruiting a specialist to coordinate Oregon’s electronics recycling program - Oregon E-Cycles - and to manage and support other materials management projects. For more information about this position, click here and under “Departments” select Environmental Quality-Land Quality. The deadline for applications is August 11, 2013.


Article Compares Product Stewardship in Ontario and British Columbia

A recent article in Solid Waste & Recycling compares the success of the Ontario and British Columbia product stewardship program models. The article, EPR: Ontario versus British Columbia, tells the story of an Ontario program that is more successful than it is given credit for.


Western Plastics Association calls for United Front on EPR

At the recent Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.’s Flexible Film and Bag Conference, held May 8-10, 2013, the Western Plastics Association spoke out in support of EPR solutions for plastics.


Starbucks speaks out on Sustainability and Packaging

Packaging Digest ran an article on July 15, 2013 titled Packaging is the gateway to a deeper conversation about sustainability. The article features a conversation with Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Impact at Starbucks Coffee. In the article Jim points to Starbucks’ efforts to focus on the entire life cycle of their packaging in order to minimize their carbon footprint.


Suzanne Tresko, Recycling Coordinator, Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, City of Spokane

What does product stewardship mean to you?

Suzanne TreskoI consider product stewardship as a system of producing, purchasing, and managing products. It takes into account not only how the raw materials are acquired, but also the environmental, community, worker, and user conditions in how the raw materials and product components are transported, manufactured, distributed, used, and handled at every stage of the product’s and its components’  life cycles.  Product stewardship is going to look different to different users depending where in a product’s lifecycle they are involved. 

What are you doing to support product stewardship efforts?

Internally, I worked on the City of Spokane’s Green Team to develop the City’s Environmentally Preferable Purchases policy.  With the City’s decentralized purchasing system, many purchases are made independently within each department and by staff that does not have knowledge about product stewardship.  The Green Team recognized that staff might not know what to ask for when requesting quotes and bids for environmentally preferred products.  So the Green Team created fact sheets with product stewardship background and vocabulary to use in bid requests.  Vendors get clear information on what they need to offer in bid responses, and the City gets a credible basis on which to compare bid responses.

Within the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System’s public outreach and education activities, “product stewardship” is not generally called out as a standalone action.  It’s not a term that has meaning to the general public especially since it isn’t a singular behavior.  And there are no perfect products that meet every product stewardship check box.  Since we don’t have the budget to create different messages for every aspect of the product stewardship system, we integrate the broader value of product stewardship in our waste reduction, reuse, and recycling messages.  Messages that may resonate are: smart shopping by purchasing durable products, safe home or worker safety with less toxic products, cost savings through products that are of recyclable or recycled content, and considering the cost of maintenance or disposal in the initial purchase. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you haven’t already read it, check out the Call2Recycle article about public confusion over the term “product stewardship”. I see that, over the years, I’ve saved “product stewardship” documents under a variety of file names: Sustainable products; Environmentally Preferred Purchasing; Environmentally Preferred Products; Green Purchasing; Responsible Purchasing, Sustainable Consumption; Buy Green, Save Green.  No wonder we are challenged by promoting product stewardship!

I’d love to see product labels similar to nutrition labels on food, showing ratings for environmental, social, and short- and long-term cost impacts.  That’s not going to happen any time soon!  So maybe we should keep “product stewardship” as an in-house term because as professionals working on product stewardship, we understand the complexity.  Product stewardship messages are different for different audiences.  But even with such a diverse audience, I think we can present product stewardship within behaviors that customers already carry out, and with vocabulary and decision points that customers already understand and use: employee/community/family health, cost, environment, product quality/durability, liability, competitive edge, responsibility, reward.  The beauty of product stewardship is that it can meet all of those criteria.

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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