NY PSC Updates
New York Enacts Carpet EPR Law; Amends to Ensure Smooth Implementation
On December 28, 2022, when Governor Hochul signed A.9279-A/S.5027-C, New York became the second state after California to enact a carpet EPR law – and the first in the nation to include artificial turf. This EPR success was a true collaborative effort with leadership from NYPSC, a legislative model from PSI, support from New York environmental groups and carpet recyclers among others, and advocacy by SignalFire Group.
The New York carpet EPR law is a significant upgrade to the nation’s first carpet EPR law, enacted in 2010 in California, which was heavily promoted by the carpet industry. The New York law establishes mandatory goals for recycling and post-consumer content in new carpet, convenient collection statewide, education and awareness, and the phase out of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from new carpet production. It will also establish a multi-stakeholder advisory board to advise producers and the state which oversees the program. Requiring carpet producers to finance and manage the collection and recycling of scrap carpet removes the financial burden of managing this bulky material from local governments and taxpayers. And, by requiring recycled content in new carpet production, the law will reduce the energy needed to make new carpet, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and saving valuable natural resources.
The law also helps create permanent full-time recycling jobs. Since the enactment of California’s law and two subsequent amendments, the state has created 500 direct and indirect jobs and, in 2021, achieved an annual carpet recycling rate of 27%. Projections show that New York could achieve those same goals in fewer than five years, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 165,000 tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 32,000 cars off the road.
In March of this year, the law was amended to include technical corrections, including a critical definition of the “carpet recycling program,” and to extend the program effective date to July 1, 2026, which will ensure smooth implementation.
PaintCare Celebrates 1 Year in New York State
PaintCare celebrated a major program milestone this spring: its one-year anniversary in New York State. Launched May 1, 2022, the nonprofit postconsumer (leftover) paint stewardship program, created by the American Coatings Association, has been focused on expanding paint drop-off sites and consumer education efforts. To date, they have collected more than 900,000 gallons of leftover paint and are in the process of training New York’s 300th drop off site.
Advocating for more responsible household and commercial paint purchases, reuse, and recycling, PaintCare has organized hundreds of recycling opportunities for households, businesses, and institutions across the state this past year. PaintCare’s continued success is due to its unique partnerships with local paint retail stores, hardware retailers, and government facilities that have volunteered to collect leftover paint from the public during business hours. The program’s New York network currently includes more than 285 partner locations. Drop-off distribution helps increase recycling convenience as more than 90% of New York residents live within 15 miles of a drop-off site.
“New Yorkers across the state are discovering how easy it is to recycle their leftover paint through the new PaintCare program. More and more households, schools and businesses are taking advantage of our drop-off sites, our large volume pickup services, and our community paint recycling events,” said Andrew Radin, New York Program Manager at PaintCare and an NYPSC board member. “And, I have to say, we are lucky to have some great retail and municipal partners that are volunteering their locations for our year-round collection efforts.”
This year, PaintCare is trying a new event type – hosting several free community recycling events at local higher education institutions including, Farmingdale State College in April where PaintCare collected an estimated 3,000 gallons of paint from Nassau and Suffolk County residents, and another in June at CUNY York College for Queens County residents.
To assist with larger volumes of paint, PaintCare offers free direct pickups to businesses, organizations, and households with 100 gallons or more of leftover paint. PaintCare also tapped New York-based paint recyclers GreenSheen Paint in Rotterdam and Empire Recycled Paint Inc. in Syracuse to assist as designated large volume collection sites, accepting unlimited quantities of paint at their processing facilities.
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair said, “For too long, used paint would either take up space in utility closets or fill our landfills with volatile organic compound emitting waste. New York’s paint recycling program has changed that by making it easier than ever for individuals to safely dispose of their unused paint. I am grateful for PaintCare’s partnership with New York State to ensure that our leftover paint is reused, recycled, or otherwise responsibly disposed.”
PaintCare keeps paint out of the waste stream by offering convenient ways to manage it by offering tips on using up leftover paint and providing drop-off sites and events in which communities and businesses can drop off unwanted paint. To find a drop-off site near you, use PaintCare’s drop-off site locator to find the most convenient options to recycle your unwanted paint. Learn more about the program’s first year on the PaintCare website.
NYPSC-Led Coalition Advances Packaging EPR Far, but a Law Must Wait for 2024
The Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (S4246A / A5322A) made it farther this legislative session than packaging EPR bills in any prior session. However, despite changes intended to garner support from key industry stakeholders, including the American Chemistry Council and the Plastics Industry Association, the bill failed to pass in the 2023 legislative session.
The companion bills, co-sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick, were the most collaborative version of packaging EPR yet and the result of two years of sustained negotiations among stakeholders deeply interested in solving New York’s recycling crisis. NYPSC’s multi-stakeholder coalition, which includes voices from government, industry, recyclers, and environmental nonprofits alike, advocated vehemently for passage in this session, working with stakeholders from all sides as well as the bill sponsors and their staff, to make changes that would allow for passage of the law. Industry stakeholders objected most strongly to the characterization of “toxic substances” in some plastics and the exclusion of chemical recycling, both bill components for which some environmental groups strongly advocated.
Even if not perfect, the packaging EPR bill if enacted into law would have saved New York local governments more than $250 million each year, expanded access to recycling for all state residents, and tripled stagnant recycling rates. The law would reduce contamination, create green jobs, and foster waste reduction through ambitious, yet achievable, standards. It would also lower greenhouse gas emissions from waste, helping the state to reach the climate goals established by the Climate Action Council (CAC). In fact, the CAC strongly recommended that a packaging EPR bill be enacted in New York state for that very reason. Packaging EPR is critically important for the health of New York State’s communities, environment, and economy.
NYPSC and the coalition will group in the coming months to strategize for next year, including reengaging with stakeholders. To learn more and get involved in efforts to make packaging EPR a reality for New York residents, contact Dawn Timm, Chair of NYPSC.
First Phase of NYS Recycling Needs Assessment Is Underway
The Center for Sustainable Materials Management (CSMM), based at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, is working with consulting firm Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) to conduct the first phase of a statewide recycling system needs assessment and gap analysis for New York. The needs assessment will compile data on how the recycling system in the state operates, including the amount and types of material collected, hauling and sorting infrastructure, and required operational and capital investment needs.
CSMM and RRS are currently creating a detailed plan for how the objectives of the assessment will be accomplished and have begun compiling existing data on recycling in New York State. An initial report on the state of existing data and gaps is expected to be completed within the year.
The assessment is a critical first step to meeting New York State’s goal to increase the recycling rate across the waste stream to 85 percent by 2050. It also builds a foundation on which a future EPR program for packaging and paper products will be built. Other states are also conducting needs assessments, and in 2023, Illinois and Maryland passed legislation that requires a needs assessment as the first step in developing a packaging EPR program.
Funding for the New York State needs assessment comes from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and is administered through a Memorandum of Understanding between CSMM and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
CSMM encourages stakeholders to contact Emily Dominiak to provide input on the scope of work.
Battery EPR Bills Die in Session as Other Priorities Take Center Stage
Since the fall 2022, NYPSC board members have led multi-stakeholder discussions, facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), to develop the comprehensive battery EPR amendment bill that was introduced in 2023. Working with Sen. Kavanagh’s staff, Call2Recycle, and PRBA, all the key stakeholders reached agreement on what was needed to increase collection and reduce devastating fires from lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, other legislative priorities prevented the bill from passing before the session ended.
NYPSC funded the New York battery legislation effort, along with SMR and other recyclers. New York State bill (S643D / A7339B) would have brought the state one step closer to an expanded scope. The District of Columbia (2021), California (2022), and Washington State (2023) have all passed battery EPR laws in recent years that expand the scope of products to include larger medium-format batteries such as those in e-mobility devices, as well as embedded batteries (like in laptops), and batteries sold with products (like toys), including single-use batteries. The New York bill has a narrower scope, since the focus was on lithium-ion batteries.
The coalition, including NYPSC, will regroup this fall to consider options for reintroducing a bill in 2024, including whether to expand the bill to be more comprehensive or to focus narrowly on lithium-ion batteries. To get involved, contact Tom Outerbridge and Scott Cassel.
A Roundup on Mattresses and Refrigerant-Containing Appliances
New York legislators also introduced EPR bills on mattresses and refrigerant-containing appliances in 2023, which did not make it out of committee. Mattress EPR bill S6419-C, sponsored by Senator Kavanagh, passed the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the Assembly. The legislation builds on four established mattress EPR laws in Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, and most recently Oregon. S6419-C and a similar bill in the Assembly sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin, A6436, included many best practices in EPR legislation, including cost reimbursement to collection sites, plan renewal requirements, minimum convenience standards, an advisory board, and performance goals. The bill will be reintroduced next session when additional provisions from the most recent law in Oregon, including measures to address illegal dumping and to ensure equitable service for multifamily residences and low-income residents, will be considered.
Another bill, S6105A, also sponsored by Senator Kavanagh, would have established an EPR program for refrigerants and refrigerant-containing devices. The bill builds on a refrigerant EPR law established in New York City in 2010. It, too, will be reintroduced next year.
New York State News
Digital Fair Repair Act Signed into Law
Just before the new year, Governor Kathy Hochul signed New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act into law. Despite a narrowed scope, the Act still requires many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to make schematics, parts, and tools needed for the repair of digital electronic equipment available to any consumer or repair business. The Act also requires OEMs to make documentation and tools needed for unlocking security related functions available as well. The new law will extend the life of digital electronic equipment by making it easier and more affordable to repair devices, while providing more opportunities for small business. The law will also significantly reduce the amount of electronic waste discarded in the state by diverting 655,000 tons of electronics to repair and reuse.
“Bigger, Better, Bottle Bill” Dies in Committee
S237 would have expanded New York State’s existing bottle bill to include containers such as wine, liquor and cider bottles, as well as certain soft drinks, juice, coffee, and tea containers. It would also have boosted the consumer deposit to 10 cents to increase the incentive to recycle and the handling fee to six cents. Bottle bills, especially those with higher deposit values, are highly effective at recovering beverage containers. But many laws, passed decades ago, have not been updated to increase the deposit amount in line with inflation and recycling rates have sagged. The original version of the New York State bottle bill would have also established post-consumer recycled content goals for beverage containers, an element also seen in packaging EPR bills, but that element was weeded out of later versions. Packaging EPR bills in states with bottle bills have often excluded containers covered under bottle bills from the scope of materials so that the two policies can coexist, as they do now in some countries. In states without bottle bills, beverage containers are typically covered under the EPR program.
New York Federation of Solid Waste Associations Holds 25th Conference.
The 25th Annual Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations Conference was a success, with 700 attendees from 23 States and Canada, featuring sessions on topics ranging from composting to PFAS treatment to EPR. The conference included several sessions on EPR< four of which featured NYPSC board members and partners.
Bottle Bill and Packaging EPR: Friends of Foes? which was moderated by board member Deb Smith of Broome County, explored the interplay between bottle bills and EPR and how they can, indeed, work together. Panelists included NYPSC Chair, Dawn Timm of Niagara County, and NYPSC board members Tom Outerbridge of Sims Municipal Recycling and Resa Dimino of RRS.
Forging Ahead with Extended Producer Responsibility, moderated by NYPSC board member Gary Carrel of Erie County, provided updates on the range of EPR initiatives, both legislative and implementation-focused, in New York State from packaging, batteries, mattresses, and refrigerants to paint, pharmaceuticals and electronics. Panelists included NYPSC board members Kate Kitchener of the New York City Department of Sanitation, Resa Dimino, and Dawn Timm.
Batteries – Let’s Spark a Conversation, addressed the danger and disposal issues posed by lithium-ion batteries and the efforts to address these challenges, including EPR. The panel featured panelists from NYPSC, including Katherine Kitchener of the New York City Department of Sanitation Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability.
New regulations that are changing the e-recycling landscape in New York State were covered in a session on developments in materials management moderated by John Vana of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. And lastly, a session called What is “Chemical Recycling”? featured a presentation by Scott Cassel of PSI, NYPSC’s fiscal sponsor, which covered information on chemical recycling as related to packaging EPR including existing state EPR laws and New Yorks packaging EPR bill.
For more on the proceedings, visit the conference website.
National Product Stewardship Updates
First-in-the-Nation Household Hazardous Waste EPR Law Enacted in Vermont
In early June, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed the nation’s first law requiring producers of hazardous household products to safely collect and dispose of them. Many household products—including cleaning fluids, varnish, paint removers, fuel additives, and gas cylinders—contain toxic and/or flammable ingredients. Known as household hazardous waste (or “HHW”), these products require special handling once consumers are finished using them.
In Vermont, as in New York and other states, local governments run HHW collection events or permanent facilities to help residents safely dispose of these products. However, events are infrequent and underfunded, and year-round operations are a growing burden on taxpayers. Other communities lack collection options entirely, leading to disposal in the trash or down the drain. It is estimated that 855 tons or more per year of HHW are being disposed of in landfills in Vermont, increasing the risk of environmental contamination and threatening the safety of drinking water.
H.67 creates a statewide HHW EPR program that will be managed and sustainably funded by the manufacturers of HHW products. Local governments that chose to participate in the program will be fully reimbursed by manufacturers for their collection costs. They will also save money on transportation and processing costs since those will be paid by producers. The law informed by research conducted by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), NYPSC’s fiscal sponsor; it is consistent with current EPR best practices and contains key elements necessary for implementation of an effective HHW EPR law.
First-in-the-Nation Tire EPR Bill Passes in Connecticut
The tire EPR bill, HB 6486, is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont. The legislation requires tire manufacturers to finance, operate, and report on the post-consumer management of their products. The bill will decrease illegal dumping, better protect consumers, and boost tire recycling in the state.
HB 6486, which was sponsored by Representative Joseph Gresko and Senator Rick Lopes, has been championed since 2018 by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the Connecticut Product Stewardship Council for several years, and was built on a model developed by the Product Stewardship Institute for CT DEEP through a facilitated dialogue meeting in 2015.
Once signed, the law is expected to increase the retreading and recycling of a significant number of the roughly 3.1 million scrap tires generated annually in the state. About 75 percent of these had been burned as tire-derived fuel (TDF) until the TDF incineration plant in Sterling, Conn. (Exeter Energy) closed in June 2014. That same year, more than 16,000 illegally dumped tires were picked up by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Tires that lie in stockpiles or illegal dumps cause environmental threats and public health hazards like mosquito-borne illness and fire risk.
Under the new EPR law, an eco-fee at the point of purchase will fund a tire stewardship system run by tire manufacturers that will eliminate incentives to illegally dump tires and incentivize retreading and recycling over export to TDF.
Tire EPR programs have been operating successfully in Canada since the 1990s. With an EPR law, the province of Ontario, Canada achieved a 100 percent diversion rate – all scrap tires collected are now recycled and illegal dumping has been virtually eliminated.
Washington State Enacts EPR for Batteries
Washington’s new batteries EPR law includes best practice elements of battery EPR legislation, which can be found in the Product Stewardship Institute’s (PSI) policy model that also informed New York battery bills this session. The law will create a statewide battery stewardship program for Washington that is managed and sustainably funded by producers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing toxic substances from the waste stream. It is consistent with EPR best practices as it includes:
- Performance goals to drive program effectiveness.
- Convenience standards to ensure that the program is accessible state-wide.
- Education and outreach, including resources targeted at overburdened and vulnerable communities to raise public awareness about how to recycle batteries.
- Annual reporting to monitor program implementation.
The law also contains other elements of successful programs, including material fees that incentivize environmental performance, a stewardship plan, and opportunities to improve the plan as the program is implemented and matures. Local governments will have the opportunity to participate in the program and be reimbursed by producers for their costs of collection. They will also save money as transportation and processing costs are assumed by producers.
As part of the law, the Department of Ecology must also complete an assessment, and submit findings to the legislature by October 2027, on the opportunities and challenges associated with the end-of-life management of batteries that are not covered by the legislation, including large-format batteries and those in battery-containing products that are embedded and/or not designed to be easily removed (e.g., laptops). Also, the Department must submit a report to the legislature by April 2024 on policy recommendations for the collection and management of electric vehicle batteries.
Maryland Passes a Packaging EPR Bill Requiring a Needs Assessment and a PRO
On May 10, Governor Wes Moore of Maryland signed legislation to establish a government funded needs assessment to be developed by a consultant that will determine the need for new recycling collection and processing infrastructure, along with the costs. The law also requires the establishment of a producer responsibility organization to coordinate producers and a separate advisory council, established by the Maryland Department of Environment that is tasked with reporting its findings and recommendations to the Governor by December 1, 2024 for consideration in 2025. Packaging EPR bills that included in statute all of the key elements of an EPR program (e.g., covered products, performance standards) had been introduced in 2021 and 2022, but did not pass.
Meanwhile, the Illinois legislature passed a packaging EPR study bill. The bill, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would establish a Statewide Recycling Needs Assessment Advisory Council by January 2024 that would provide advice and recommendations to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in drafting, amending, and finalizing a Statewide Recycling Needs Assessment. The needs assessment, to be funded by the State through the Solid Waste Management Fund, would be bid out to a consultant, to be selected by July 1, 2024. The assessment must be complete by May 1, 2026 and include recommendations on how to establish and implement an effective EPR for packaging program in Illinois.
Events, Webinars, and Conferences
July 13, 2023– Webinar | Extended Producer Responsibility: What It Is, What’s Happening, Where We’re Headed, presented by the Municipal Waste Management Association. Register here.
August 14-16, 2023 – Orlando, FL| Resource Recycling Conference. Register here.
September 26, 2023 – Boston, MA| Sustainable Packaging Coalition ADVANCE conference. Register here.
September 11-14, 2023 – Portland, OR| Product Stewardship Forum presented by the Product Stewardship Institute. Register here.
November 14-16, 2023 – Cooperstown, NY|NYSAR 34th Annual Conference and Trade Show. Register here.
ON DEMAND WEBINARS:
June 29, 2023 |Pharms & Sharps Stewardship: Building Capacity for EPR, a free webinar hosted by the Product Stewardship Institute. Recording available to PSI Members and Partners.
What We’re Reading
- Great interview with Dr. Thomas Lindhqvist, credited with creating EPR, for Ecoveritas. “Lindhqvist believes potential Europe-wide EPR legislation could be in the pipeline and that it will prove an essential tool for policymakers. His intervention comes as the European Union works to improve policy harmonisation across Europe as part of the EU Green Deal. The ultimate goal of this approach is that all packaging is made reusable or recyclable by 2030.”
- The UN’s plan to cut plastic pollution by 80% by 2040 includes reuse, recycling, and alternative materials — as well as discontinuing subsidies of fossil fuels, which are used to make most plastics.
- New reporting on U.S. paper and plastics exports found 8% less recovered fiber and 10% less scrap plastic was exported during the first quarter of 2023 than in the previous year, and a shift to Thailand as the primary fiber and Canada as the primary recovered plastic recipient countries.
- The White House issued a report “Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing: Harnessing Research and Development to Further Societal Goals” that outlines goals related to EPR for packaging. By 2043, the Goal 2.2 intends to “convert bio-based feedstocks into recyclable-by-design polymers that can displace >90% of today’s plastics and other commercial polymers at scale” through establishing facilities to “test new technologies from synthesis, manufacturing, and polymer processing to in-line application testing for materials and chemical synthesis and recycling.”
- Last year, Sims Municipal Recycling installed four EverestLabs sorting robots to their New York City MRF, the largest commingled facility in the U.S., and plans to add as many as four more in 2023.
On E-Waste and Batteries:
- China, the world’s largest producer of lithium-ion batteries and the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, targets lithium self-sufficiency through EV battery recycling.
- In 2022, the U.S. and Canada reported nearly 400 fires — but a lack of official data means the actual number is probably much higher. TIME’s article explains factors — increased demand, flammable (aerosols) and self-igniting (lithium-ion batteries) materials, and our hotter, drier climate, among other factors — and calls out EPR as a proposed solution.
- Canada’s Environment Minister helps launch Call2Recycle’s battery recycling contest to Ontario elementary schools.
- Great perspective from Mark Kasper of Clean Earth on the importance of EPR programs to increase e-waste recycling.
- In February, to commemorate Canada’s National Battery Day, Call2Recycle announced that the six provinces operating under a battery EPR law recycled a record-setting 4.4 million kilograms of batteries last year — and that battery EPR is being considered in three additional provinces.
- E-bike battery fires in New York City have been the source of over 100 fires so far this year. A sad and unfortunate story and the reason that NYPSC is working to boost safe recovery and recycling of e-bike batteries through EPR legislation. The crisis didn’t rise above other policy-makers priorities, so we’ll be regrouping for next year.
- In January, California’s Mattress Recycling Council submitted its revised Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Plan to resolve the issue identified last November, in CalRecycle’s Request for Approval, and the compliance review was initiated.
- Analysis shows that the market for recycled solar panels is increasing exponentially: In 2022, it was worth $170 million; by 2030, it will be worth more than $2.7 billion.
Support the NYPSC
New York’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws for electronics, thermostats, rechargeable batteries, pharmaceuticals, and paint are saving local governments millions of dollars in waste management costs each year by making manufacturers responsible for the materials they sell. Please consider reinvesting those savings to support NYPSC’s work. Become a sponsor today.