Last week the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) awarded Recology their Partner of the Year Award at their annual meeting at the California Resource Recovery Association’s Conference. CPSC recognized Recology for its belief in Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), contributions to EPR educational outreach and participation in local, regional and statewide efforts to expand the implementation of EPR.
EPR, or product stewardship, is a strategy to place a shared responsibility for end-of-life product management on the producers, and all entities involved in the product chain. It is an approach to product and materials management that improves their utilization and promotes waste minimization. Under product stewardship, the consumer, the product designer, the manufacturer and the recycler are called upon, as environmental stewards, to take responsibility for the design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, use, and recycling of the product. This method removes the sole responsibility, for end-of-life management, from the general public and instead encourages changes in product design that reduce waste and the negative impacts on human health and the environment at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.
Currently 28 California counties, in addition to dozen of cities within these counties, have individually passed EPR resolutions, together these total 121 resolutions supporting product stewardship. Every other remaining county is a member of an association that passed an EPR resolution or policy statement. These resolutions support phasing out the end-of-life management that is free to manufacturers of problem products like carpet, paint, batteries, electronics and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. However the only current statewide programs are carpet and paint. Now that local governments are setting the goals, the next step is to develop a statewide EPR framework policy for all applicable products, so that individual legislation isn’t needed on a product by product basis. When this type of progress occurs, California can, through successful EPR programs, rapidly decrease the waste production of these products and effect changes to require better product design.
As a part of Recology’s product stewardship work, Recology provides educational programs in the communities it serves, gives first hand presentations and explanations of how to appropriately recycle difficult materials, works on state legislature to allow for the creation of EPR programs and participates in regulatory packages to allow for existing EPR programs to thrive.
Recology has long expressed its excitement about the direction recycling and composting efforts are moving in California, and a big part of those efforts is the growing support and expansion of EPR programs. With a rallying cry of “WASTE ZERO,” Recology looks forward to the future successes of more EPR programs. Recology is well-deserving of this recognition and together with organizations like CPSC, by promoting improvements in product design, appropriate end-of-life product management and overall environmental sustainability, goals like “WASTE ZERO” can be achieved.
The partnership between CPSC and Recology is a great way to continue the support of product stewardship and continue the movement toward finding the highest and best use for every resource.
We all know that there’s a great, cruical step after purchasing a product, and that is reusing it. It definitely beats just tossing another thing into the landfill.
For the sake of clarification the definition of reuse is to lengthen the life of a product and recycle is to reprocess an item into a new material for use in a new product. Recycling materials saves us space in the landfills. Reusing a product not only does this but also increases the product’s life and saves us money.
It is as simple as donating your unwanted useable “trash” to a charity or thrift store, sharing tools with a neighbor, finding another use for that grocery sack and mending or repairing clothing or household items. You can purchase canteen water bottle or Tupperware that can be used hundreds and hundreds of times before they have outlived their useful lives. Also try to get a few more decent uses out of that cutting board, cheese grater, hand towel or whatever it may be, before you go out and buy that new deluxe version. On an individual level, we can take big steps to extend the lives of the products we purchase.
It is important to keep in mind that waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the production process of any product—from extraction of raw materials to transportation to processing and manufacturing facilities to manufacture and use—waste is actually generated. So reusing items like plastic bags, boxes, clothes, toys, pots, bottles, and furniture can go a long way to reducing what is in our waste stream.
The next time you go to toss something, think, can I somehow use this again?