Join us for a webinar on Mar 07, 2013 at 1:00 PM EST.
During the last two years, extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging has arisen as a hot issue in the United States. NGOs and shareholder activists have been reaching out to scores of companies to take responsibility for packaging. Two major brands – Nestle Waters and Coca-Cola – have publicly endorsed new mandates for EPR. Nestle Waters and some NGOs are actively promoting state legislation. The value of wasted paper and packaging is estimated at $11 billion per year.
While there is general support from many local governments and public interest groups for the concept of producer responsibility, there are many concerns related to its implementation, including:
• How will EPR impact community recycling operations?
• How does EPR affect container deposit legislation?
• Can EPR deliver expanded recycling at a fair cost as promised by advocates?
• What policy drivers must be in place to protect the public interest and advance environmental goals?
Hear from five unique perspectives on what EPR should look like, and what types of policies should be included to move forward, not backwards, on recycling policy in the United States. If you are engaged with corporate sustainability or recycling policy, this will be an opportunity to get up to speed and engage in conversation with people at the leading edge of this issue.
• Susan Hubbard, Principal, Nothing Left to Waste, CRADLE2 Steering Committee – Minneapolis, MN
• Eric Lombardi, Executive Director, Eco-Cycle – Boulder, CO
• Susan Collins, President, Container Recycling Institute – Culver City, CA
• Gary Liss, Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN) Board member, Chair of GRRN EPR Committee – Loomis, CA
• Matt Prindiville, Associate Director, Product Policy Institute – Rockland, ME
Presented by the CRADLE2 Coalition, a national coalition of public interest organizations working for source reduction, reuse and comprehensive recycling for products and packaging
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
February 7, 2013
Dear CRADLE2 Partners,
This is the first of our monthly update e-mails. Each month, we’ll be drafting updates to keep you informed, let you know about upcoming events, and plug you into efforts to build a sustainable economy around the country.
Two New Policy Committees on Paint and Packaging
At the CRADLE2 annual meeting, the Steering Committee voted to create two new policy committees on Paint and Packaging. Committee membership is open to CRADLE2 partners interested or working in these policy areas. Each committee has a listserv and ad-hoc calls and informational briefings are scheduled regularly, which members can attend as they’re interested and able. Please e-mail Matt Prindiville at email@example.com if you would like to join a policy committee.
Senate EPR for Packaging Commission moves Forward in Rhode Island
The Senate Commission to Study Producer Responsibility Models for Packaging and Printed Paper held its third and fourth meetings in January. Jamie Rhodes, Executive Director of Clean Water Action Rhode Island and CRADLE2 Steering Committee member, sits on the Commission. The Commission has heard from local governments, waste haulers, public interest groups and businesses in support, opposed and neutral to EPR. Members will be deliberating over the next month and will release a report with recommendations for how to move forward on packaging recycling in Rhode Island. If you have questions or comments, Jamie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Fact Sheet Refutes Grocery Manufacturers Anti-EPR Report
The Product Policy Institute and Product Stewardship Institute released a fact sheet detailing inaccuracies and false assertions against EPR made by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in a recent report. The PPI-PSI paper concludes: “An underperforming recycling system is a long-term threat to U.S. consumer packaged goods companies. Many companies have made sustainability or sustainable packaging statements; however, what is often missing is the articulation of strategic or tactical plans to achieve the stated goals. Rather than fighting what its members already do in 47 other countries, companies could work to create superior producer-led EPR systems in the U.S., develop predictable supplies of raw materials, and earn positive public recognition from assuming this level of corporate social responsibility.”
Webinar Announcement: What Should EPR for Packaging Look Like?
When: March 7th at 1:00 Eastern
Background: While there is general support from many local governments and public interest groups for the concept of producer responsibility, there are many concerns related to its implementation. Hear from four unique perspectives on what EPR should look like, and what types of policies should be included to move forward, not backwards, on recycling policy in the United States. Speakers: Susan Hubbard, Principal, Nothing Left to Waste, CRADLE2 Steering Committee – MN, Eric Lombardi, Executive Director, Eco-Cycle – Boulder, CO, Susan Collins, President, Container Recycling Institute – Culver City, CA, Gary Liss, Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN) Board member, Chair of GRRN EPR Committee, Loomis, CA, Matt Prindiville, Associate Director, Product Policy Institute – Rockland, ME. A separate invite will be sent with registration details shortly.
Please let us know what legislation you’re working on and we’ll track it in our monthly updates. We’ll be adding new legislation and links to legislation as the bills get printed.
- California: Plastic Bag Ban
- Rhode Island: H5264, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Reduce Marine Debris and Preserve Landfill Space While Increasing Recycling of Post-Consumer Packaging
- Rhode Island: Plastic Bag Ban
- Maryland: Bottle Bill
- Massachusetts: Expanded Bottle Bill
- Connecticut: HB 5798: An Act Proposing a Mattress Stewardship Program.
- New York
Thanks for being our partner. We appreciate all you are doing to build a sustainable economy. Please let us know how we can serve you better by emailing Matt Prindiville at email@example.com
All our Best,
The CRADLE2 Steering Committee: Matt Prindiville, CRADLE2 National Coordinator, Product Policy Institute • Suellen Mele, Zero Waste Washington • Miriam Gordon, Clean Water Action, California • Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment • Susan Hubbard, Eureka Recycling, Minnesota • Laura Haight, New York Public Interest Research Group • Jamie Rhodes, Clean Water Action, Rhode Island • Lynne Pledger, Clean Water Action, Massachusetts • Lauren Hierl, Vermont Public Interest Research Group • Abigail King, Natural Resources Council of Maine • Bill Sheehan, Product Policy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 19, 2012
- Matt Prindiville, Product Policy Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-236-8603
- www.cradle2.org – Steering Committee contacts listed below
Earth Day 2012: Groups Organize to Bring Recycling into the 21st Century: New coalition seeks to make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling products
TODAY, Forty-two years after the recycling movement began on the first Earth Day, a new coalition launched to “bring recycling into the 21st century” by making manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling the products and packaging they produce. The CRADLE² Coalition includes more than 30 organizations from around the country, concerned about the squandering of natural resources, the impacts on climate change, and the loss of jobs from wasting valuable, recyclable materials in landfills and incinerators.
“We’ve come together because we’re concerned about the human and environmental impacts of throw-away products and packaging,” said Matt Prindiville, Associate Director of the Product Policy Institute and a co-founder of the new coalition. “We know better products can be designed with people and the planet in mind. Better systems for recovering, reusing and recycling them will revitalize our economy and create jobs in our communities.”
The name of the coalition, CRADLE², comes from the groups’ vision of building a cradle to cradle economy where products and packaging are managed from “cradle to cradle” instead of “cradle to grave.” In this scenario, says Prindiville, “Manufacturers provide and finance collection programs, ensuring that every consumer product and its packaging are reused or recycled, providing American jobs as well as using resources responsibly.”
While CRADLE² is launching on Earth Day, this idea is not new. The policy concept, known as extended producer responsibility (EPR) – also referred to as manufacturer “take-back” or product stewardship – has become one of the dominant policies governing production and solid waste in the European Union, Canada and Japan. Numerous laws around the world now direct manufacturers to set up and finance collection and recycling programs for consumer products and packaging. In the United States, there are more than 80 producer responsibility laws in 33 states, covering 10 different product categories from used paint to unwanted electronics to leftover carpet and more. Twenty-four of these producer responsibility laws are aimed at collecting and recycling electronics, in part because many products contain significant amounts of toxic materials.
“Manufacturer take-back laws prevent toxic pollutants – like lead and mercury in electronics and other products – from ending up in our air and water,” said Laura Haight, Senior Environmental Associate with New York Public Interest Research Group.
“The Texas Legislature voted unanimously for producer take-back recycling for computers,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “If the good ol’ boys in Texas get it, anyone can.”
CRADLE² points to a new report which asserts that getting US recycling rates up – to levels achieved in much of Europe and many American cities – can lead to millions of new American jobs. According to the Tellus Institute, boosting recycling from our current national rate of 34% to 75% of municipal solid waste, will result in 1.5 million new jobs and result in greenhouse gas and pollution reduction benefits.
“Most people don’t realize that when we throw away our newspaper or soda can, we are actually throwing away American jobs,” said Abby King, Policy Advocate with the Natural Resources Council of Maine.” In order to get to higher recycling rates that can create millions of new jobs, we need manufacturer take-back policies to build infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurial development and help change consumer behavior.”
While producer responsibility laws are aimed at increasing recycling, some products that are typically thrown away can be also reused, including paint. “Paint manufacturers now fund the collection and reuse of unused paint. They even support it,” said Jamie Rhodes, Rhode Island director of Clean Water Action. “Who doesn’t have cans of unused paint stashed somewhere around the house? Our legislature is poised to add paint to the growing list of products covered by take-back policies.”
Over the next several years, CRADLE² plans to build a grassroots movement for producer responsibility and cradle to cradle solutions for better products and less waste.
“Right now, we’re consuming the planet’s resources at a rate which will not allow the next generation to enjoy the same standard of living, or provide them with the same opportunities to live healthy, productive lives on a healthy, productive planet.” said Annie Pham, Policy Advocate with Sierra Club California. “We owe it to our children to deliver goods and services in ways that sustain and even promote the life-support systems of the planet.”
Steering Committee Member Contacts:
- Matt Prindiville, Product Policy Institute, (207) 236-8603
- Abby King, Natural Resources Council of Maine, (207) 430-0144
- Annie Pham, Sierra Club California, (916) 557-1100
- Jamie Rhodes, Clean Water Action, Rhode Island, (401) 225-3441
- Laura Haight, New Public Interest Research Group, (518) 436-0876
- Lauren Hierl, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, (802) 223-5221
- Lynne Pledger, Clean Water Action, Massachusetts, (413) 477-8596
- Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment, (512) 326-5655
- Suellen Mele, Zero Waste Washington, (206) 441-1790
Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal, which references how to how Europe holds manufacturers not taxpayers responsible for waste. While we don’t think that waste incineration has any place in a sustainable economy, the article makes a compelling case for why we need a new approach to designing and managing products and packaging.
Wall Street Journal: Grappling With a Garbage Glut
We toss out 7 pounds of trash a day each, spending billions to manage it
Each week, we push our trash to the curb, and it seemingly disappears. But where does it all go: the spent cartons of milk, the computer keyboard fried by spilled coffee, those empty dog food cans?
A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to find out. In 2009, they began attaching transmitter chips to thousands of pieces of ordinary garbage. They tossed this “smart trash” into the bin, sat back and watched the tortuous, disturbing path that our garbage often takes: the meanderings of electronic waste as it headed for distant shores, of ratty old sneakers that ran the equivalent of a dozen marathons, of printer cartridges that traversed the continent not once but twice on the road to recycling.
This clever experiment threw a spotlight on the biggest, costliest, dirtiest secret about our garbage: our ignorance of how much we produce, what it contains and what happens to it once it leaves our hands.
Take the nation’s official trash tally—used alike by environmentalists, businesses and policy makers—which maintains that the average American tosses out 4.4 pounds of trash a day, with about a third getting recycled and the rest going to landfills. These numbers are found in the Environmental Protection Agency’s exhaustive annual compendium “Municipal Solid Waste in the United States”—America’s trash Bible—and are determined by an array of byzantine estimates and simulations, based on manufacturing data and the life expectancy of products.
Our Annual Waste
19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts
40 billion plastic knives, forks and spoons
28 billion pounds of food
Enough steel to level and restore Manhattan
Enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas
But the EPA’s “materials flow analysis” dates back to the bad old days when there were 10 times the number of town dumps and many more illegal ones, with little actual weighing and regulation. Today the business model of the landfill and recycling business depends on precise measurement (and billing per ton), so we have much more real-world data. Using these sources, the most recent survey conducted by Columbia University and the trade journal BioCycle found that Americans actually throw out much more than the EPA estimates, a whopping 7.1 pounds a day, and that less than a quarter of it gets recycled.
So how does America’s trash weigh in? Here are some key numbers from the emerging science of garbology:
• At 7.1 pounds of trash a day, each of us is on track to produce a staggering 102 tons of waste in an average lifetime.• Trash has become America’s leading export: mountains of waste paper, soiled cardboard, crushed beer cans and junked electronics. China’s No. 1 export to the U.S. is computers, according the Journal of Commerce. The United States’ No. 1 export to China, by number of cargo containers, is scrap.
• American communities on average spend more money on waste management than on fire protection, parks and recreation, libraries or schoolbooks, according to U.S. Census data on municipal budgets.
As these snapshots suggest, garbage costs are staggering. New York City alone spent $2.2 billion on sanitation in 2011. According to the city’s department of sanitation, more than $300 million of that was just for transporting its citizens’ trash by train and truck—12,000 tons a day—to out-of-state landfills, some as far as 300 miles away. How much is 12,000 tons a day? That’s like throwing away 62 Boeing 747 jumbo jets daily, or driving 8,730 new Honda Civics into a landfill each morning.
On the opposite coast, Los Angeles has opted to construct a garbage mountain 500 feet high, taller than most of the city’s high-rises. This is Puente Hills Landfill—trash as geologic feature, so full of 60 years’ worth of decomposing garbage that the methane it produces is pumped into generators that provide enough power for 70,000 homes.
At the landfill’s flat and dusty summit, a dozen bulldozers and graders swarm every day, backing and turning and mashing and shaping. “More people should see what I see here,” says Michael “Big Mike” Speiser, whose job is to sculpt trash into a mountain with the blade of a bulldozer. “Everything that’s advertised on TV ends up [here] sooner or later, and a lot sooner that most people think.”
Puente Hills is just the largest of the 1,900 municipal landfills operating nationwide. The chief executive of Waste Management, the world’s largest trash company, estimates that there is at least $20 billion in valuable resources locked inside the materials buried in U.S. landfills each year, if only we had the technology to recover it cost effectively.
The U.S. doesn’t have to handle trash this way. Other countries with big economies and high standards of living have rejected the disposable products that make up so much of America’s garbage—in part because European countries hold manufacturers, not taxpayers, responsible for the costs of packaging waste. With that sort of incentive, toothpaste tubes need not come in redundant cardboard boxes and television sets can leave the store with no boxes at all. The average Dane makes four pounds of trash a day, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; the average Japanese generates 2.5 pounds.
Other countries also are shunning landfills. Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark all send less than 4% of their garbage to landfills; Germany does no landfilling at all. Recycling rates there are two to three times America’s, and the rest of their trash goes to waste-to-energy plants.
The preferred mode in Europe is to build not a few hugely expensive incineration behemoths but a larger number of smaller, community-based utilities that burn trash to provide electricity and heat through underground conduits. The technology in the newest plants limits toxic emissions of dioxins, a major issue with incinerators of the past, to levels similar to a backyard barbecue’s. Carbon emissions are less than those emanating from landfills. One facility being built in Denmark will be hidden beneath a community ski park featuring three different slopes of various difficulties.
Both L.A. and New York City are considering major waste-to-energy projects, and Waste Management is experimenting with new technologies, including a test facility in Arlington, Ore., that uses a process known as plasma gasification. The technology vaporizes (but doesn’t burn) garbage with arcs of electrical energy that heat matter inside their beam to 25,000 degrees. The process takes place in the absence of oxygen, so many of the normal, noxious byproducts of combustion aren’t produced. Instead, out comes a synthetic gaseous fuel and a lump of shiny rock, not unlike volcanic glass, with toxins locked up inside in relative safety. This garbage death ray reduces trash volume by 99%, not even leaving ash behind—just 20 pounds of obsidian for every ton of trash disintegrated. The process is still too expensive to be commercial, but it shows promise.
Of course, the best way to reduce trash is to waste less in the first place. Cut out disposable plastic bags or bottled water. Buy used or refurbished electronics. Consider whether that thing you’re buying will be treasured for years to come or discarded in a few months. The real sacrifice, even when it is invisible to most of us, is accumulating ever more things that quickly find their way to our costly, growing mountains of garbage.
—Adapted from “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash” by Edward Humes, by arrangement with Avery, a member of the Penguin Group (USA). Copyright © 2012 by Edward Humes.A version of this article appeared April 14, 2012, on page C3 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Grappling With a Garbage Glut.