Fall Newsletter | September 2020

New York Product Stewardship Council Updates

  • Packaging Stewardship Bills Introduced in New York State Legislature: The NY PSC began advancing packaging EPR in the wake of the recycling market crisis in 2019. Working directly with Senator Kaminsky, the PSC provided model packaging elements (drawn from PSI’s policy model) and extensive comments to inform the language of S 7718. NY PSC expects further action on S 7718 in the upcoming 2021 legislative session and plans to support the bill.  

  • State Senator Todd Kaminsky & Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter Introduce “same-as” Bills to Amend E-Waste Act: The bill (S 8480/A 10662) will bring necessary improvements to the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act of 2010. NY PSC supports S 8480/A 10662, which would implement critical changes such as removing the problematic “mail-back” provision, which undermines manufacturers’ responsibility to provide convenient, year-round drop-off locations for residents, and clarifying that free year-round drop-off access must be provided even after performance targets for the program have been met. Under the new provisions, at least 90% of New York residents will have a collection site within 15 miles of their homes, with extra sites added in dense urban areas and options for Counties to establish additional permanent collection sites funded by producers. The bill is endorsed by the state’s major professional solid waste and recycling associations, including the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling (NYSAR3), the Solid Waste Association of North America – NY Chapter (SWANA-NY), and the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management (NYSASWM). NY PSC urges local governments to pass a resolution in support of the bill.

  • EPR for Carpet and Mattresses Included in Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal: A Historic First for U.S. EPR Movement: On January 22nd, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed to establish extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs for carpet and mattresses as part of his 2020-2021 Executive Budget Proposal (A 9508/S 7508). The proposal would have also required the evaluation of existing state EPR laws for rechargeable batteries, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and mercury thermostats and made recommendations for introducing new EPR programs. This was the first time that a U.S. Governor had included EPR bills in the executive budget for any state. The NY PSC, with support from PSI, submitted comments and recommendations in support of carpet and mattress EPR, along with the Carpet Recycling Industry, the International Sleep Products Association, and many environmental advocates. Unfortunately, the section was removed by April due to the COVID-19 health crisis.   

  • PSI Launches Online Plastic Reduction Toolkit for Businesses and Communities: PSC Board Vice Chair Dawn Timm assisted PSI in a project to help Buffalo area restaurants reduce their reliance on single-use, disposable plastics. The project involved partnering with restaurants in Buffalo and Williamsville, NY to develop source reduction plans so that each business could reduce its plastic footprint, as well as materials they could use to educate their customers on changes they had made. When the coronavirus pandemic began impacting restaurants across New York and the entire U.S., PSI pivoted the work to focus on safe take-out waste reduction strategies. The final products, including 5 Easy Steps to Reduce Plastic & Benefit Your Business: A Guide for Restaurants and Eateries, are available on a new web hub.  

  • Congratulations to NY PSC Board Member Luann Meyer: Congratulations to Luann for accepting a Senior Project Manager position at Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C. in July 2020. The NY PSC Board is lucky that Luann will remain an active Board Member! 

New York State Product Stewardship Updates

  • PaintCare to Launch NY Program in 2021; New York is the 11th State in the U.S. with Paint EPR: The New York Paint Stewardship Act recently became the fifth product stewardship program established in NYS — a resounding victory borne of over five years of persistent education and advocacy. In 2019, NYPSC worked in tandem with PSI, the American Coatings Association (ACA), and Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) to lead a coalition of 43 local governments, municipal and industry associations, and other environmental groups urging the passage of paint stewardship legislation. NYPSC shared educational materials, conducted outreach to Senate and Assembly members, and submitted a support letter to the Legislature and the Governor’s office with signatures from all 43 coalition members. Bill A 6373 (same as S 4351) passed with near unanimous bi-partisan support thanks to the leadership of our elected representatives, including Assembly members Steven Englebright, Chrystal People-Stokes, and Al Stirpe, as well as State Senators Todd Kaminsky, Tim Kennedy, and Thomas O’Mara. The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 16, establishes a program that is expected to recycle more than 2 million gallons of leftover paint annually, creating recycling sector jobs and saving NYS municipalities more than $3 million per year.  

    The program, which will be managed by industry-run nonprofit PaintCare, is expected to launch in early 2021 and will offer hundreds of conveniently located drop-off locations throughout the state. New York is the 11th state (in addition to the District of Columbia) to adopt this program.  

  • NY Coalition Calls for Implementation of New York State Drug Take Back Act: In August, a broad coalition of environmental, product stewardship, public health, solid waste management, local government, and fishing organizations – including the NY PSC – sent a letter to the New York State Department of Health calling for final regulations and implementation of the NYS Drug Take Back Act within 30 days. The law requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to fund a statewide drug take-back program that provides safe, convenient drug disposal options for the public. The lack of safe disposal options for unwanted or expired pharmaceutical drugs not only contributes to the drug abuse epidemic and accidental poisonings in the home, but also to the pollution of our treasured waters across the state. See PSI’s press release for more details

  • Ban on Plastic Bags Upheld by State Supreme Court: On August 20, New York’s plastic bag ban was upheld in the state Supreme Court after facing a challenge from a coalition of grocers and a plastic bag manufacturer. The ban was originally set to take effect March 1 but was delayed, first by legal challenges and then as a result of COVID-19. State Supreme Court Judge Gerald W. Connolly ultimately sided with the NY DEC, allowing enforcement to begin while also ruling that the department went beyond their authority when choosing to set the minimum acceptable thickness of bags. In the coming weeks, the DEC has said they will “release notice and direction to impacted stores and businesses regarding how it will move forward with enforcement.”

National Product Stewardship Updates

  • Packaging Bills Pick up Steam: The U.S. has never seen more EPR for packaging and paper (PPP) legislative activity than it has in the past year. Maine was the first state to hold a hearing for its EPR for packaging bill before the 2020 legislative session was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional bills were introduced in Massachusetts, California, Vermont, and New York (S 7718, described above).  

    At the federal level, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, introduced in February by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and informed by PSI’s policy model, has continued to gain momentum since its initial unveiling. Senators Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Bernie Sanders, as well as more than 40 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill. The New York Times described the bill as “one of the most aggressive, sweeping attempts to hold the plastics industry, beverage makers and other companies financially responsible for dealing with the waste they create.” 

  • Product Stewardship Policies & U.S. Recycling Programs Face Setbacks Amid Global Pandemic: As states responded to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, municipal recycling programs across the U.S. felt the impacts. Although many states deemed recycling an essential public service or a critical piece of manufacturing for high-demand items such as toilet paper and shipping boxes, dozens of local programs were put on pause due to staffing shortages and health concerns. Furthermore, commercial and bottle deposit materials decreased dramatically, while residentially generated trash and recycling volumes sharply increased, with notable impacts to the recycling supply chain. State and local governments also faced increasing pressure to reverse, delay, or otherwise roll back environmentally beneficial plastics policies in response to fears about COVID-19. PSI created a tracker to record the changes.   

  • Federal Drug Enforcement Agency launches Secure Your Meds Campaign: The national campaign calls on Americans to keep medications safe. The campaign is stressing that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, and prompts families to discuss the issue of controlled prescription drug abuse. 

  • PSI Report Outlines Proven Strategies, Policy Options for Struggling U.S. Recycling Programs: PSI released a seminal report in March that provides guidance for stabilizing and modernizing fragmented U.S. municipal recycling systems that have strained under the weight of major market disruptions. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging and Paper Products (PPP): Policies, Practices, and Performance outlines key elements of EPR for PPP and how they contribute to program success. The report and accompanying executive summary, fact sheet, and press release are available as part of PSI’s extensive packaging resources
  • First in the Nation EPR Bill for Synthetic Turf: On February 7th, Maryland Delegate Mary Lehman introduced HB 1547 to establish an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for synthetic turf and turf infill. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) provided bill text and advised Delegate Lehman on the EPR and tracking components of the bill. PSI also provided testimony on the bill, which requires manufacturers to fund and provide for environmentally sound management of scrap synthetic turf and turf infill. Manufacturers must also meet performance goals that include recycling rates and efficiencies. Other emerging products for which EPR-related bills have been introduced in the last five years include tobacco and vapor products in California (SB 424), Maine (LD 544), and Washington (HB 1932); smoke detectors in Connecticut (SB 1001) and New York (A 2740); and fireworks in California (SB 522).  

Upcoming Conferences

Free On-Demand Webinars

  • Master Class EPR Series, Part 1: Understanding the Basics | On June 30, PSI’s Scott Cassel joined Joachim Quoden of the Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance (EXPRA), and Peter Börkey of the OECD Environment Directorate for a webinar organized by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), “Master Class EPR: Understanding the Basics.” The webinar, the first in a series of Master Class EPR discussions, introduced the concept of EPR, provided an overview of its history, presented the status of EPR today, and considered its potential for the next decade. Watch Now

  • Master Class EPR Series, Part 2: EPR Fees and Fee Modulation | On September 9, PSI’s Scott Cassel participated in the second of a series of EPR Master Class Webinars jointly organized by ISWA, EXPRA and PSI, exploring EPR, its various application for various waste streams and in various countries. The September 9 Master Class honed in on EPR fees and fee modulation and also featured Derek Stephenson, who worked for a Canadian PRO for many years and helped several PROs design their fee system, as well as Peter Sundt, secretary general of EPRO, and an EPR and waste management consultant. Watch Now

  • Data Management in a Circular Economy | As EPR takes hold around the world, the demands on organizations that manage complex recovery and recycling programs, like PROs and government-run stewardship programs, grow with each year. Software company Diversys has developed DiversysPRO, a workflow software solution specifically designed to address the challenges of the recycling industry, particularly under EPR. This highly practical webinar hosted by the Product Stewardship Institute explores the factors driving the need for more and better data, including supply chain management, financial responsibility, regulatory compliance, and environmental challenges. Watch Now

Support the NYPSC

New York’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws for electronics, thermostats, rechargeable batteries, and pharmaceuticals have saved local governments millions of dollars in waste management costs each year by making manufacturers responsible for the materials they sell. The paint EPR law we just helped pass in 2019 will save municipalities millions more each year. We ask for your community’s support so we can establish EPR programs for packaging, household hazardous waste, carpet, and other products.   

We are at a critical moment for addressing the plastics and packaging crisis. Recycling costs have skyrocketed, driven by the loss of markets caused by China’s restrictions on recyclable material imports, as well as inherent flaws in a system that has long needed updating.  Gone are the days when we could rely on recycling as a revenue stream. Whether you contract for services or operate a municipal facility, costs are escalating and many of us are facing bills in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to continue our programs. Statewide, the cost impact of these market changes to local recycling programs is estimated to exceed $40 million in 2019. The situation in 2020 has not improved.  

Please consider demonstrating your support with a sponsorship contribution today.  

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