In September, I used to be invited to hitch a stakeholder session assembly organized by the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth (OECD) in Washington D.C. The target was to evaluate the efficiency of the U.S. EPA in addressing the environmental – and, particularly environmental justice – impacts of plastic, which pollutes our coasts and oceans worldwide. Individuals had been additionally requested to suggest initiatives that the EPA may take to additional scale back impacts.
I discovered myself in a singular place. On the one hand, I needed to guarantee that EPR, being a essential method to fixing the issue, was included. On the opposite, I additionally needed to assist extra source-reducing methods such because the single-use plastic bans that had been championed by others within the room, together with nationwide nonprofits Surfrider and Ocean Conservancy.
With 38 member nations, the OECD works to determine worldwide requirements to assist resolve social, environmental and financial issues. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) has labored extensively with the group. For instance, I had beforehand contributed to OECD EPR steering paperwork and introduced on U.S EPR exercise at an OECD occasion in Tokyo in 2011. This 12 months, we had been really helpful by OECD and invited to take part within the session assembly on the request of EPA.
On the assembly, I introduced on how state packaging EPR legal guidelines will scale back plastic air pollution, particularly when thought-about with different legislative measures corresponding to post-consumer recycled content material mandates and enhanced deposit return methods. Over the previous two years, packaging EPR legal guidelines influenced by PSI’s mannequin EPR laws had been enacted in Maine, Oregon, Colorado and California. In 2023, not less than 9 state payments are anticipated to be launched or re-introduced.
I additionally identified that the nation’s fragmented recycling infrastructure and insurance policies, lack of a constant supplies administration coverage and restricted technical capabilities problem the implementation of statewide packaging EPR insurance policies. Though waste administration is delegated to the states, there’s a essential want for better state harmonization and/or a nationwide answer that may very well be present in a federal invoice, such because the Break Free From Plastic Act, which can be re- launched in 2023 (PSI’s mannequin additionally knowledgeable that invoice’s EPR element).
Whereas it’s unclear what authority the EPA has to advertise coverage that isn’t straight enacted by Congress, I emphasised that the company does have the flexibility to offer steering and technical assist on points corresponding to packaging labeling; a regular definition of recycling; and objectives for supply discount, reuse, recycling and post-consumer recycled content material. I additionally instructed that EPA may assist nationwide efforts pushed by state and native governments.
It is a actual, probably game-changing chance and my very own expertise bears this out. Starting in 2003, PSI labored with EPA to facilitate a multi-stakeholder dialogue – which included trade, authorities, recycled paint producers, retailers and portray contractors – and develop a state legislative mannequin for paint EPR. In 2009, Oregon used that mannequin to enact the nation’s first EPR legislation.
Since then, PSI has helped enact paint EPR legal guidelines constructed on the identical mannequin in 10 states and Washington, D.C. Paint EPR packages have collected greater than 51 million gallons of paint, recycled over 72% of all latex paint collected, saved governments and taxpayers almost $300 million and established greater than 2,000 assortment websites, over 70% of that are at voluntary retail areas.
I strongly imagine that with EPA’s assist we may replicate the mannequin established for paint and that this might assist resolve the plastic air pollution downside. All stakeholders may work collectively to create a nationwide packaging EPR technique that additionally emphasizes source-reduction methods corresponding to reuse, that are broadly promoted by environmental nonprofits, together with people who attended the assembly.
We at PSI sit up for studying the OECD report generated from the assembly, which will probably be mentioned at a joint assembly of the OECD Working Social gathering on Environmental Efficiency (WPEP) in 2023.
Scott Cassel has over 35 years of expertise tackling waste administration points within the public, non-public and nonprofit sectors. In 2000, he based the Product Stewardship Institute, a coverage advocate and consulting nonprofit that pioneered product stewardship in america and has helped enact 130 prolonged producer accountability (EPR) legal guidelines throughout 16 product classes in 33 states.
The views and opinions expressed are these of the writer and don’t suggest endorsement by Useful resource Recycling, Inc. In case you have a topic you want to cowl in an op-ed, please ship a brief proposal to [email protected] for consideration.