Posts Tagged ‘guest blog’

Guest Blog Addressing the Challenges of Measuring Recycling Performance

Posted by GlobalPSC at 4:45 pm, June 8th, 2016Comments0

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Carl Smith, President and CEO of Call2Recycle, Inc.

Prior to becoming the head of a non-profit 12 years ago, I had spent most of my career with big for-profit companies where we measured everything. These measures provided continuous feedback on what was working and what needed to be fixed (or stopped). Upon arriving in the non-profit, product stewardship world, I noted that much less was measured and that organizational performance metrics were at best elusive.

One of the biggest frustrations we have is how to accurately assess the performance of our battery recycling efforts. The recycling field has typically relied on “diversion rates” as a measure; specific to battery collection and recycling, the more specific “collection rate” measure is typically used. As has been defined by the EU, battery collection rate is defined by the amount recycled in a year divided by the average annual sales of batteries for the previous three years. Like “diversion rates”, a “collection rate” is expressed as a percentage.

Traditionally, the focus of the Call2Recycle® program in the US has been on collecting and recycling rechargeable batteries. For a variety of reasons, this ‘typical’ approach to measuring our performance simply didn’t make sense.

First, fairly soon after I took this position, it became clear that rechargeable battery companies simply do not know what their consumer battery sales are into any specific jurisdiction. There are simply too many channels, applications and value chains to even estimate sales. For a very simple example, let’s look at how a big retailer like Walmart operates in the US. It purchases in vast quantities directly from a manufacturing facility in Asia. The facility transports via container ship to a West Coast port where they are then trucked to a distribution facility in a Midwestern state. Given the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA), units could also be shipped to distribution centers in Canada and Mexico. Those distributions centers then fulfill store orders on a ‘just in time’ basis. So if you asked the manufacturer how many batteries it has sold in, for instance, the state of Vermont, it won’t know. It sold to Walmart and where they actually appeared in the US market is a mystery to them.

Second, the rechargeable batteries we’re collecting today are likely 5, 10 or even 20 years old. On average, they were certainly not sold during the three-year window that a typical collection rate calculation would measure. A related issue to this is the general inclination that consumers “hoard” electronics and batteries long after their useful life. How many old cellphones do you have sitting in a drawer? When is the last time you used your first power tool?

These issues are particularly difficult for rechargeable batteries which generally last longer than primary batteries, are hoarded more (with the products they power) and are sold through much more complex value chains. So the conventional approach to assessing our performance using a collection rate just didn’t work.

We commissioned a study to see if we could develop a methodology that was repeatable, credible and defensible that would provide us more insight into this issue. When we started the study, we focused on two stages:,

  1. develop a way of accurately measuring battery sales; and
  2. adjust sales for the lifespan of the batteries.

The more we immersed ourselves into this subject, a third issue emerged that was in the initial research requirements.

Increasingly, rechargeable batteries are designed so that they cannot be easily removed by the consumer, which generally means that they are not typically available to be recycled. Cellphones, tablets and laptops are the most obvious examples of this. But how about electric toothbrushes and cordless shavers? Even when the host product is recycled by, let’s say, an electronics recycler, the batteries are not typically the material most coveted in the process. Therefore, even if they are technically recycled with the host product, the process has not often been optimized to reclaim the precious material in the battery.

We maintain that embedded batteries are not generally available for collection by a battery stewardship program and should be excluded from the calculation of “collection rate”. So we added a third stage of this research: adjust sales downward by the amount of embedded batteries in order to determine an accurate assessment of the amount of batteries truly available for collection.

The outcome of this research – the paper available via this link – shows our results. It gives us a new denominator called “available for collection” that would replace the EU standards of the average of the last three years’ sales. In the end, we now say:

Collection Rate = Batteries Collected / Sales (Lifespan) – Embedded Batteries

In addition to the important data generated through this research, we came away with four important observations consistent with the conversation above:

  • For primary batteries, battery sales from “bricks and mortar” retail locations are less and less of the total market. There are many more diverse channels for batteries to enter the marketplace including, in particular, on-line markets.
  • A new method for measuring collection rates is needed for rechargeable batteries to measure collection performance. Such a method must meaningfully capture longer battery and product lifecycles and increases in embedded batteries.
  • While some but not all of the products that rechargeable batteries power are managed through other stewardship programs, they are generally getting “lost” in tracking performance.
  • It is imperative that collection programs incorporate long product lifecycles into their funding models, as batteries remain in market long after they are sold.

The last point is notable. Most battery stewardship programs charge stewards based on sales into the market. However, there may be a 20-year lag time between when steward fees are paid on a sale and when we incur the cost to collect and recycle the battery from that sale. This puts a strain on funding models that are often forced to minimize reserves that might take care of the long-term “tail” associated with rechargeable batteries.

In the end, we felt we “moved the needle” on creating a better way to measure performance. We also added to the conversation on the issues associated with battery collection and recycling. But we don’t believe we’ve totally solved the challenges, hopefully giving others the opportunity to contribute to this discussion.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.  

Carl E. Smith is President and CEO of Call2Recycle, Inc., North America’s leading product stewardship organization. With more than 35 years’ experience in environmental issues, program development, advocacy, corporate communications and technology, Carl is a nationally and internationally recognized spokesperson and leader in the corporate responsibility, sustainability and product stewardship arena. Carl leads the Atlanta-based non-for-profit organization in its efforts to help preserve the environment through responsible recycling of batteries among other products. Carl is also a GlobalPSC Executive Committee member and our Treasurer.

Guest Blog – Battery Stewardship Moves to the Next Stage in Australia

Posted by GlobalPSC at 2:11 pm, August 13th, 2015Comments4

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Dr Helen Lewis, Principal of Helen Lewis Research and Chief Executive of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI). 

 

At their last meeting in July, Australian Environment Ministers agreed to continue work on an industry-driven stewardship program for handheld batteries but with a focus on hazardous and rechargeable batteries only.

This is a significant win for Energizer, Duracell and the Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA), who have argued that battery stewardship for primary batteries would need to be regulated to ensure that all suppliers participate. During a Product Stewardship Institute battery recycling webinar (5/6 November 2014) Energizer’s spokesman advised that they had ‘zero tolerance’ for voluntary stewardship but would work with ABRI to develop a regulatory solution.

Handheld batteries are one of only two product categories that are still listed on the national ‘priority list’ for government action under the Product Stewardship Act. That list identifies products that the Minister for the Environment will consider for regulation or accreditation under the Act.

The Queensland Government is leading negotiations on the battery stewardship program on behalf of all government jurisdictions. A discussion paper, released in March 2014, outlined proposals for battery stewardship that were well received by most stakeholders but failed to secure the necessary level of industry support, particularly from primary battery manufacturers.

Following the Ministers’ decision to refine the scope to rechargeable and hazardous batteries only, a more focused proposal is expected to be developed by key industry associations and brand owners in late 2015 for broader consultation. While the exact scope of the stewardship scheme is yet to be defined, it is likely to include all handheld rechargeable batteries weighing less than 5kg as well as primary button cells. Button and coin cells have been the subject of extensive media coverage in Australia over the past two years due to an increasing number of infants and children presenting at hospitals with life threatening injuries associated with batteries.

The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative will continue to advocate for ‘all battery’ recycling services because these offer the most convenient and environmentally-responsible solution for consumers. Existing battery recycling programs, which are funded by state government agencies, local councils and retailers such as ALDI and Battery World, already collect both primary and secondary batteries.

Nevertheless, the establishment of a national, voluntary stewardship scheme for rechargeable batteries would be a welcome development because it would increase industry engagement and improve the availability of recycling services. ABRI is working on a series of pilot projects for particular battery types to inform the design of a national program. The first of these, for power tool batteries, will commence in September this year.

At the same time ABRI will continue to work on regulatory options for primary batteries. These include stand-alone regulations (similar to the model legislation developed by the battery industry in the US) or extension of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include primary batteries. If discussions on a voluntary scheme for rechargeable batteries do not reach a successful outcome in 2016 then ABRI will argue that regulations should apply to all handheld batteries.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.  

Helen Lewis is part-time chief executive of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative. She has been actively involved in product stewardship initiatives for plastics, packaging and batteries for over 20 years. Helen is a member of the GlobalPSC Advisory Group

 

Guest Blog – Dutch Sustainability Plans for Packaging

Posted by GlobalPSC at 1:24 pm, August 13th, 2015Comments2

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Gill Bevington, Policy Analyst, Packaging for Perchards.

 

 

The packaging sustainability institute, KIDV, KIDV has published an overview in English about the progress of the sustainability plans which industry undertook to develop as part of its commitments in the Framework Agreement on Packaging.

KIDV reports that sectoral sustainability plans covering 80% of the weight of packaging on the market have now been submitted. This first set of plans sets out objectives and measures to achieve them by 2018 and further plans will be developed with objectives for 2022.

Since the Framework Agreement was signed, the Packaging Decree has been revised. The revised Decree, which was adopted in 2014, gives the Minister powers to impose statutory sustainability requirements on packaging. These new powers are seen as fall back powers if the plans now being developed do not deliver the results the Dutch authorities are hoping for. It is important therefore that Dutch industry supports and implements the plans.

KIDV’s methodology for the plans is to identify the front runners in each sector, and then aim to bring all companies in that sector up to the same level. Targets for the sector are based on the best in class. The plans were assessed by an independent review committee established by KIDV and consisting of four experts from different universities.

As KIDV’s approach was innovative, it was challenging to get the sectors involved in the development of the plans. Some showed reluctance at first, comments KIDV, but because the approach was unfamiliar, not through lack of interest. KIDV warns that the process will take time, depending on the level of investment needed to implement the plans and because the scientific knowledge needed to set targets was not available in all cases.

Each sectoral plan sets out the measures to be taken by producers in order to increase the sustainability of product-pack combinations within their sector, both measures to be taken by 2018 and then by 2022. Each sector is responsible for implementing its plan. The focus is currently on the product-pack combinations with the greatest potential environmental benefit.

The first plans to be developed cover the fruit and vegetables, food (including animal feed) and e-commerce sectors. A sub-plan for rPET 2018-2022 has been submitted by the Dutch association for soft drinks, waters and juices.

The main focus of the first plans to be submitted is:

  • greater use of sustainably managed and certified raw materials, such as FSC;
  • increase in the proportion of secondary raw materials in packaging, such as in plastic bottles and pots, tubs and trays (PTT)s;
  • decrease in the quantity of materials used, through optimisation and source reduction;
  • increasing the recyclability of packaging, through the use of mono-materials;
  • use of recycling logos on packaging to enable consumers to sort their packaging better.

There is nothing new about policy-makers encouraging producers to improve the environmental performance of their packaging. Industry bodies throughout Europe have for years published good practice examples of optimised packaging, including source reduction, improved recyclability etc, which aim both to encourage other producers and to demonstrate to policy-makers the efforts being made.

It has always been up to each producer to decide whether and how to optimise its packaging. Even in countries like Belgium and Spain, where producers have to submit prevention plans to the authorities, the producers set their own targets in their plans. But the new Dutch approach is different – it seeks to identify which are the best product-pack combinations in a sector under different headings and then to bring all producers in that sector up to that standard. With the threat of legislation if the plans do not yield as much as expected, sectoral trade associations will be working hard to encourage their members to participate in the process.

But it raises some questions:

  • What happens if the front runner is in that enviable position because of a unique set of circumstances which other producers in the sector cannot emulate?
  • How much pressure will individual companies be under to improve their sustainability in order to meet the targets in the plan? There may be sound reasons why a producer cannot match the best in class. Plans are being implemented by the sectors so individual companies will be judged by their peers (competitors) who will understand the constraints. But if it looks as though the objectives in a plan will not be met, which could have implications for all producers in the sector, what then?
  • What about imported products, for which the importer will have to persuade its foreign suppliers to make the necessary changes? That might not be possible or desirable because of the longer transport distances and/or because the preferred packaging type is not available in the country of production. Individual Dutch importers are of course free to set their own product/packaging specifications, but if those specifications are set out in a formal plan, could they represent a barrier to trade to suppliers in other EU member states?
  • Could there be problems with commercial confidentiality? Some front runners may be happy to be named and to provide information about their packaging. But others may prefer to keep the data confidential because their optimised packaging helps to give them their competitive edge. And will the laggards be named and shamed, even if there are sound reasons why they cannot match the best in class?

What happens if the results in 2018 are not as good as expected, even if the sectors have worked hard to improve the sustainability of their packaging? How will Dutch policy-makers respond? Will they acknowledge that the achievements are as good as they possibly can be and that, using the methodology, performance will continue to improve in future? Or will they conclude that this “voluntary” action is insufficient and that legislation is necessary? It remains to be seen whether this new Dutch approach is just rhetoric or whether it will deliver real improvements.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council. 

Gill Bevington joined Perchards in 1991 and currently serves as Policy Analyst, Packaging. She monitors, analyses and reports on European legislative developments on packaging (and industry response to them) at national and EU level, and is an expert on national packaging waste management initiatives across Europe. Gill has carried out many tailor-made studies for clients on aspects of the packaging legislation in place in various European countries and speaks regularly at conferences on the subject. 

 

Guest Blog – E-waste Targets Must Go Up

Posted by GlobalPSC at 2:41 pm, May 14th, 2015Comments1

john_gertsakisThe Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is John Gertsakis, Chief Sustainability Officer for Infoactiv. John is also a member of the GlobalPSC Advisory Group

 

Clear and logical support grows for increased recycling targets under Australia’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS).

Australia’s electronics recycling scheme is currently subject to an Operational Review by the Australian Government, and many stakeholders, including the Waste Management Association of Australia, are expecting the recycling targets to be sharply increased.

Anything other than a significant increase will continue to exacerbate stockpile creation, questionable recycling practices, and the appalling situation of Co-regulatory Arrangements (industry programs) terminating or minimising collection and recycling services to local councils across urban and regional Australia.

The NTCRS has achieved significant collection and recycling outcomes in a product category that was in urgent need of industry-wide Product Stewardship attention and industry support. The Product Stewardship Act and the subordinate regulations represent landmark policy reform aimed at applying the principles of Extended Producer Responsibility to unwanted, obsolete and end-of-life electronics. Infoactiv remains very supportive of the NTCRS and its achievements to date.

The majority of participating stakeholders wish to see the NTCRS expand and thrive as it continues to deliver measurable environmental, social and economic benefits. However the continuation of ‘easy-to reach’ recycling targets does nothing to demonstrate genuine CSR goals, nor do low targets address the vast volume of television and computer waste that continues to flood into landfills in all States and Territories.

We receive several calls each week from frustrated local councils that have had their collection and recycling service withdrawn by industry Arrangements under the NTCRS. And ‘frustrated’ is the polite translation of how they express their views. These are not isolated instances but a steady stream of municipalities who are now having to bear the cost burden of industry not recycling the very products that they produce and place on the market.

Most importantly, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment is perfectly placed to significantly increase the enforceable targets under the NTCRS and swiftly deal with several issues that require prompt and decisive attention.

Low-level target increases will continue to aggravate key issues at a time when the scheme needs proactive adjustment by the Australian Government. More information about the Government’s Operational Review that is currently underway can be found here.

Ongoing research and data collection by Planet Ark underscores the importance of the NTCRS given the number of public enquiries received every week wanting information about where and how to recycle unwanted televisions, computers and IT peripherals. Consumers, householders, small business and the wider public have clear expectations that manufacturers and brands in particular must play a greater role in managing the total product life cycle of their product beyond the point of sale and warranties. This merely reflects current activity in many other OECD countries.

In summary, Infoactiv believes that the NTCRS is a fundamentally sound and innovative scheme that addresses a significant and growing resource recovery imperative related to the consumption and disposal of television and IT equipment. The Department of the Environment is to be commended for its efforts in successfully launching and administering the NTCRS since inception in 2011.

Additional detail about our 10 point plan to adjust and improve the NTCRS can be found here.

We also recognise that any new, nationwide initiative such as the NTCRS will experience establishment phase glitches and minor hurdles, which only serve to inform the scheme’s long-term performance and success.

The Environment Minister’s option is very clear; sharply increase the enforceable collection targets, and do it swiftly. This will not only meet community expectation, it will also address the genuine needs of local councils nationwide, especially those that have been ignore by industry.

Most importantly, and often overlooked, is the unequivocal fact that a target increase under the NTCRS will further maximise resource recovery levels and better manage hazardous substances that are otherwise ending up in Australian landfills.

Losing such scarce and non-renewable resources at a time when the solution is available, obvious and uncomplicated would reflect poorly on the necessary policy reforms that are urgently required.

As always, greater public discussion about the NTCRS and how to achieve positive outcomes is welcome and encouraged.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council. 

John Gertsakis is a sustainability practitioner with over 20 years experience as an industry adviser, consultant and research academic. He works on a range of issues including Product Stewardship for electronics and EPR strategy, regulatory analysis, government relations and environmental communications. Through his current position as Chief Sustainability Officer with Infoactiv, John’s work is focused on strategic business development and the design of new stewardship solutions for manufactured durables.

John served as Executive Director of Product Stewardship Australia from 2006 – 2011, representing global consumer electronics brands and OEMs. He was deeply involved as a key advocate of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and sat on the Implementation Working Group for the NTCRS. He authored Australia’s first report on e-waste product stewardship in 1995 titled: Short Circuiting Waste from Electronic Products. He was also the co-author and editor of Return to Sender: An Introduction to Extended Producer Responsibility (1997). John is also Vice President of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative, and an Honorary Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia.

 

Guest Blog – Good Year for R2

Posted by GlobalPSC at 2:58 pm, January 13th, 2015Comments0

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is John Lingelbach, Executive Director of SERI.

It has been a big year for the R2 program. Much has been accomplished – especially for a program in only its fourth year and which employs just four people. Over the past year, one of the most significant accomplishments has been the organizational transition from R2 Solutions to SERI.

We made this change so we could engage in a broader set of activities that are in line with our mission of promoting safe and sustainable electronics reuse and recycling throughout the world – particularly in Asia, Latin America, India, and Africa, where access to safe repair and recycling facilities has not kept pace with the rapidly expanding use of electronics.

One of the ways that we can expedite the work that needs to be done is to work collaboratively with others who share SERI’s goals. To that end, we established the R2 Leader program. In just a few short months, over a dozen corporations and organizations have joined. As part of the program each R2 Leader has identified steps they will take to promote safe and sustainable electronics reuse and recycling somewhere in the world. It is encouraging to see the energy and resources going into some of these efforts. For example, DirecTV is providing training in a number of Latin American countries. Other Leaders, such as Xerox and Goodwill, have taken steps to support and expand the collection of used electronics. A number of other projects in early stages of development will improve the electronics reuse and recycling landscape in various regions of the world.

On another front, we have just completed the transition from the original R2:2008 Standard to R2:2013. The new version of the Standard has a deep emphasis on quality and consistency, with new environmental health and safety planning, record keeping and documentation review requirements. Nearly 90% of all R2:2008 certified facilities upgraded to R2:2013.

Perhaps the most important SERI initiative this year is the development and initial implementation of SERI’s R2 Quality Program. Nothing is more critical to SERI’s work than the integrity of the R2 program, and nothing presents a greater set of challenges. Promoting consistency within the auditing community, and a solid understanding among facilities getting certified, is essential. Identifying and removing any bad actors is even more important. SERI is absolutely committed to doing everything in its means to maintain and enhance the overall quality of the R2 program.

2014 was a pivotal and transformative year for SERI and for the R2 Standard. Spring boarding from the momentum of the past year, SERI is well positioned to make considerable progress in advancing the cause of safe and sustainable repair and recycling around the world in the upcoming year as well as years to come.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.

John Lingelbach is the Executive Director of SERI – Sustainable Electronics Recycling International, formerly known as R2 Solutions. SERI is the nonprofit organization that administers and educates people about the R2 Standard and Certification Program. Mr. Lingelbach has served as Executive Director, as well as on the organization’s Board of Directors, since its inception, and previously in these capacities for R2 Solutions since its inception in 2010. From 2006 to 2009, he managed the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s development of the R2 Standard. Mr. Lingelbach is an attorney from the United States who has focused throughout his professional career on matters relating to innovations in environmental law and policy. Mr. Lingelbach received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of law.

 

Guest Blog – ACA and PaintCare: Driving a Post-Consumer Paint Solution

Posted by GlobalPSC at 7:24 pm, September 23rd, 2014Comments1

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Alison Keane, Vice President for Government Affairs with the American Coatings Association. She is also the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Association’s PaintCare product stewardship organization.

Alison has been an active participant and speaker at Global Product Stewardship Council events, including the GlobalPSC’s International Product Stewardship Summit and Priority Product Stewardship Workshop

 

Today’s paints offer consumers the aesthetic value they seek, as well as the protective properties necessary to safeguard their valuable assets. Additionally, environmental consciousness has pushed coatings technology toward creating more eco-friendly, sustainable products. The results are safer and easier to use paints that deliver top quality aesthetics and protection.

Despite its many valuable uses, paint – when disposed of – is often the largest volume product collected by municipal household hazardous waste (HHW) programs: an estimated 10 percent of the more than 650 million gallons of architectural paint (paint used to coat the interior and exterior of houses and other structures) sold each year in the United States goes unused. Much, if not most of this is latex – which is considered “non-hazardous” according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing protocols. This paint is typically managed along with other products in HHW programs as a hazardous waste, which can be very costly. In addition, management of latex paint poses a challenge for many municipalities and counties because liquid latex paint cannot be disposed of as “mixed municipal solid waste” in the regular waste stream. However, latex paint has potential for recycling and diversion from landfills, and as such, the paint industry favors not regarding leftover paint as waste but rather as a resource that is meant to be completely used or reused.

Yet, while leftover paint can be captured for reuse, recycling, energy recovery or safe disposal, doing so requires public awareness and a convenient and effective local collection system. Many municipal, locally operated HHW programs have been collecting paint for many years; however, as paint collection is expensive, many have discontinued collecting latex, instead directing the consumer to dry and dispose of it through their regular garbage. With continuing budget constraints, this is a trend that is gaining acceptance. Simply put, post-consumer paint collection is currently beyond the capacity of, and budgets for, many local governments.

Thus, the paint industry supports and has championed an extended producer responsibility (EPR) or product stewardship approach, an approach that is increasingly being implemented in the United States and in other countries for other products. Product stewardship is a principle that directs all participants involved in the life cycle of a product to take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use, and end-of-life management of the product. EPR principles assert that it is in the best interests of state and local governments that manufacturers manage environmentally sound and cost-effective end-of-life stewardship programs for their products. These terms, EPR and product stewardship – often used interchangeably – allow a reduction of overall system costs by privatizing the end-of-life management for products and shifting the cost burden from rate and tax payers to users and producers of the products. All participants in the life-cycle of a product have a role to play – manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and government. However, if producers are going to have the primary responsibility for the end-of-life management of their products, they must be given the ability to develop, own and operate the programs – and not simply be forced to fund current programs.

The American Coatings Association (ACA), after more than five years of promoting a model solution for post-consumer paint management, was instrumental in securing passage of the first-ever paint product stewardship law in the United States in the state of Oregon in July 2009. Since then, parallel legislation has been enacted in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, Maine, and Colorado. ACA has created a new 501(c)(3) organization – PaintCare® – to run the program, which directs an industry-led end-of-life management program for post-consumer architectural paint; that is, both oil-based and latex paint used for the interior and exterior of buildings that are sold in containers of five gallons or less. This model solution was developed as part of an agreement with federal, state and local government stakeholders.

The PaintCare® program institutes a true product stewardship model that ensures environmentally sensitive end-of-life management for leftover paint, while relieving local and state governments of their economic burden, without creating new, expensive local or state-run programs.

Model legislation was crafted through a dialogue facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute, a sister organization and member of the Global Product Stewardship Council. The legislation was crafted to ensure that there would not be any free-riders (all producers must participate) and to establish a sustainable financing system. The financing system is termed a “paint stewardship assessment”. The law defines this as “the amount added to the purchase price of architectural paint sold in [the state] necessary to cover the cost of collecting, transporting and processing the post-consumer architectural paint managed through a statewide architectural paint stewardship program”. This assessment is paid to PaintCare® by producers for all architectural paint sold in states where the program is operating and is then uniformly added to the final retail price of paint in order to ensure adequate funding for the program and a level playing field for all producers and retailers.

In addition to using the funding for the operational aspects of the program – collection, transportation and processing – the funding also is used for administrative costs. These costs include submittal of a comprehensive plan to the state agency in charge of oversight as well as an annual report on the progress of the program. In addition, PaintCare® financing is used to educate consumers about the issue, including reducing post-consumer paint waste, collection and recycling opportunities and how the program is financed. Education and outreach on purchasing the right amount, using it up and recycling the rest is paramount to the program; if we can reduce the waste paint generation in the first place, we can save valuable resources and reduce the costs of the program over time. Identifying and supporting recycling efforts – leftover paint back into paint or other products – is also part of the program’s goals.

As mentioned above, eight states have enacted legislation to establish the PaintCare® program and it is important to mention that these laws have been consistent across the states. A primary purpose of the industry’s pro-action on the issue was to ensure that the industry would not be facing 50 different state solutions to the issue, but rather one nationally coordinated approach. PaintCare® has had remarkable success in just its first four years. In fact, the Oregon program was only intended to be a four-year pilot, but due to its incontrovertible success, the PaintCare® program was made permanent by law last year.

All in all, PaintCare® has over 1,000 collection sites for post-consumer paint in the 5 states currently operating and has collected and recycled in excess of 2 million gallons of paint. An ancillary benefit is the container recycling that has also been realized by the program with over 700 tons of plastic and metal cans having been recycled through the program. These numbers will only continue to grow as existing programs expand, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado begin implementation over the next year and new states come on board.

PaintCare® is a win-win, and state and local governments are carefully tracking the success of PaintCare®’s program throughout the states in which it is operating with an eye toward adopting the program. Other countries such as Australia, the UK, and Brazil are interested in the model. While ACA and PaintCare® owe much to our counterpart in Canada, Product Care, we are committed to growing to be the best, most effective program for paint stewardship on the globe!

For more information about PaintCare®, please visit www.PaintCare.org, or contact ACA’s Alison Keane (akeane@paint.org) or PaintCare®’s Marjaneh Zarrehparvar (mzarrehparvar@paint.org) at (202) 462-6272.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.

Alison Keane is an environmental attorney with 20 years’ experience in both the private and governmental sectors. She is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs with the American Coatings Association, responsible for the Association’s advocacy activities on behalf of paint and coating manufacturers in the US. She is also the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Association’s PaintCare product stewardship organization. Other employment experience includes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Headquarters office, the Maryland State Senate and private practice. Alison has her BA in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and her JD from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She is admitted to the practice of law in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.

 

Guest Blog – E-waste Recycling in Developing and Emerging Economies: the Importance of Working with the Informal Sector

Posted by GlobalPSC at 12:06 pm, September 23rd, 2014Comments4

Brett Giddings crThe Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Brett Giddings, currently undertaking a PhD at UNSW focussed on e-waste and Manager, Member Services at the Australian Packaging Covenant.

The rate of ownership, and ultimately disposal of, electronic devices continues to increase year on year; the StEP Initiative estimating that 48.9 million tonnes of e-waste was produced worldwide in 2012, a figure that is set to increase to more than 65 million tonnes by 2017.

At the same time, devices such as mobile phones, laptops and televisions are becoming increasingly complex and challenging to recycle at end-of-life. Recycling the mix of valuable materials within this growing heterogeneous waste stream is important, but simply collecting products from consumers does not ensure recovery.

As highlighted by Adam Minter (keynote at the next GlobalPSC Thought Leadership Forum) in his 2013 book Junkyard Planet, inevitably some e-waste is shipped to locations where the manual labour, often better suited to dismantling complex products, is more cost-effective and within closer proximity to the manufacturers that will ultimately use the materials recovered. On face value, it is difficult for the public to support e-waste flows to these markets. While the situation is reported to be improving, the environmental and health impacts associated with poor e-waste recycling practices employed by the informal sector are well-documented, legitimate concerns with a quick Google search conjuring up images of youths burning PVC sheaths from copper wires and factory workers sitting in piles of broken CRT TVs and monitors.

Parallel to regulatory responses to these impacts is a growth in industry-lead supply chain transparency and certification, yet still the flows of waste (at times illegally) continue, and ultimately find their way to the informal sector. There have been many calls to stop the export of e-waste to regions that involve the informal sector, however there are inherent social benefits and value creation opportunities that should be considered and accounted for. These include the dramatic rises in ownership of refurbished electronic devices in these regions and the resultant social benefits that this access affords. At the same time, the developing world is producing its own increasing volumes of e-waste, with China now outstripping even the US in terms of total tonnes of e-waste produced each year. “Cutting and running”, as with many complex supply chain problems, is not the answer.

The viability of e-waste recycling is underpinned by the availability of high-value materials, including copper, gold, silver and palladium and the ease with which these materials can be separated and recovered from the units within which they are embedded. New, low-impact, practical and place-relevant solutions are required; solutions that mitigate the health and environmental impacts associated with practices such as chemical leaching and open copper wire burning, while maximising employment opportunities and resource recovery.

There is no right or wrong approach, but solutions should be systematic, linking effective manual recycling processes with the high-tech, environmentally sound, formal sector. They should be complementary rather than competing, also able to run in parallel and coexist with the formal sector, and empower both individual operators and those working in cooperative arrangements. One example is the East Africa Compliant Recycling operation in Kenya. Supported by Dell, HP, Microsoft and Philips, collectors are able to deliver electronic goods and receive fair payment. Electronic items are then manually sorted, dismantled, packed and shipped locally or globally for recycling.

Other solutions are technology-focussed. The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre) at UNSW, has demonstrated that processing printed circuit boards using pyrolysis at high temperatures in an inert atmosphere can be utilised to recover high-value material fractions in a manner that mitigates both the health and environmental impacts often associated with small-scale processing. Currently laboratory-based, I am involved in a research project to explore the viability of this technologies’ use by the informal sector and in an environment where waste streams are far from consistent, evolving with each product iteration. Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the SMaRT Centre, will be discussing this project and others as a panellist at the GlobalPSC’s next Thought Leadership Forum.

 

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.

With a background in product development and environmental management, Brett Giddings has held roles that span the full lifecycle of products; from design through to recycling. Currently undertaking a PhD at UNSW focussed on e-waste, Brett is also the Manager, Member Services at the Australia Packaging Covenant. He has worked in local government in a waste management role, contracted to several environmental consultancies, held a research position at UNSW and was Visy’s Product Sustainability Manager.

Guest Blog – Responsible Recycling for Electronics Sees Major Gains

Posted by GlobalPSC at 5:51 am, March 14th, 2014Comments7

The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Clare Lindsay, Board Member of R2 Solutions and former Senior Policy Advisor and Project Director for Product Stewardship in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The digital revolution has led to unprecedented changes in the way we work, communicate and live our lives. However, this breakneck pace of technological advancement over the past several decades has produced an unintended side-effect: a rapidly increasing volume of used electronics.

The world’s 7 billion people now generate an average of 15 pounds of used electronics per person, per year, with that amount expected to increase over 33% by the end of the decade. Developed nations, such as the United States, are leaders in discarding used electronics, but many emerging economies, such as Brazil, India and China, are rapidly eclipsing many other nations. In fact, based on the most recent numbers from an organization sponsored by United Nations University, Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP), China now generates more discarded electronics per year than the United States, making it the world leader.

Many electronic items can be repaired and reused in second hand markets in the developed or developing world. Additionally, almost all electronics are recyclable, containing valuable metals and plastics that when separated can be resold as useful commodities. Unfortunately, many electronics are not recycled, instead finding their way into landfills or other disposal channels where rudimentary practices can cause serious human health and environmental harm.

In response to these challenges, a coalition of stakeholders including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, electronics manufacturers, major retailers, NGOs, electronics refurbishers and recyclers, and others, created the Responsible Recycling (R2) standard for safe, environmentally sustainable management of used electronics. Developed through a transparent, consensus-based process, the goal of the R2 standard was to develop a voluntary, market-based mechanism for expanding and encouraging the use of best practices for electronics refurbishing and recycling.

Responsible electronics recycling practices ensure that used electronics are handled in a way that encourages repair and reuse, safely reclaims metals, plastics and other materials for commodity resale, and guards against human health issues and environmental contamination brought on by improper recovery and disposal. R2 certification has been integral to the growth of responsible recycling worldwide and new changes to the standard aim to take these principles even further.

The R2 standard begins 2014 with incredible momentum. Over 500 facilities in 14 countries are now R2 certified with more becoming certified every week. Last July’s release of R2:2013, the first major update to the original R2 standard, added increased record keeping and reporting requirements, mandated certification to generally-accepted environmental health and safety requirements, and tightened requirements regarding how facilities that refurbish and recycle electronics address some of the most pressing environmental and human health risks associated with managing used electronics.

The R2:2013 standard specifically addresses these challenges:

  • Reuse and refurbishment – Refurbishment and reuse is considered, in most instances, the greenest way to manage used electronics, offering a second (or third) chance to use an item before it is disposed. R2:2013 adopts a hierarchy for managing equipment that prioritizes reuse and refurbishment. Certified recyclers are required to take all practical steps to divert tested and working electronics to repair and resale channels. This requires the use of rigorous testing procedures, sanitizing data, labeling and sorting equipment based on condition, and properly packing equipment for transport.
  • Data security – Data security breaches risk billions of dollars in liabilities and losses each year, with unauthorized access to used devices among the leading causes of data security incidents. R2:2013 certified recyclers are required to sanitize or destroy data to NIST 800-88, ADISA, or NAID specifications, document their processes, and keep appropriate records. Additionally, certified recyclers are required to implement training procedures for their employees and submit to periodic review by independent auditors of their data security practices.
  • Environmental health and safety – Electronic devices can contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and other potentially toxic materials. If not managed correctly, these materials can contaminate soil and water supplies, or adversely affect the health of workers in recycling facilities or people in surrounding communities. R2:2013 requires that certified recycling facilities have a written environmental health and safety management plan, as well as implement and regularly test workplace safety and environmental controls. Additionally, facilities are required to implement a quality assurance plan and policy, and be certified to either RIOS (a recycling specific health and safety standard for electronics recyclers) or both ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

The enhanced standard also provides a foundation for many exciting new programs and services that will benefit recyclers and improve the operating environment for electronics recycling. R2 Solutions has hired a Director of Quality to work with recyclers and refurbishers, and auditors, to better understand and implement the requirements of R2:2013. In addition, R2 Solutions will be doing to more to improve how certifying bodies conduct and follow up on the audits required for recyclers to obtain and retain their R2 certification. R2 Solutions is working to develop new support tools for recyclers and auditors that it will be rolling out over the coming months.

This is an important time for R2 certification and more broadly, sustainable electronics recycling. Over the course of the next year, the over 500 companies currently R2 certified will upgrade to the new R2:2013 standard. As of the end of January 2014, several trailblazing facilities have already successfully upgraded to R2:2013. R2 Solutions is excited about the continuing growth and development of the R2 standard and is looking forward to further expanding the reach of the standard to electronic refurbishing and recycling facilities around the world.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.

Clare Lindsay recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, after a 20 year career focused on resource conservation and materials management.  As Senior Policy Advisor and Project Director for Product Stewardship in EPAs Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Ms. Lindsay led EPAs efforts to initiate the first national dialogue in the United States on electronics product stewardship and takeback. This initiative catalyzed and informed action by numerous states that have since enacted electronics takeback laws.  Ms. Lindsay also advised and helped develop many other stewardship initiatives addressing packaging, carpet, office furniture, and paint.

Currently, Ms. Lindsay serves on the Board of R2 Solutions. She is also Chairman of the Board of the National Center for Electronics Recycling, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and enhancement of a national infrastructure for the management of used electronics in the United States.

Reinventing Recycling in the U.S.: The Business Case for an Extended Producer Responsibility Model

Posted by GlobalPSC at 7:06 pm, July 18th, 2012Comments1

The Global Product Stewardship Council will periodically invite thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our first guest blogger is Michael Washburn, Director of Sustainability at Nestlé Waters North America.

Annual U.S. recycling rates have stagnated at an unacceptable—and unsustainable—33%.[1] Every year, valuable resources continue to pile up in landfills, logistics costs continue to rise and government recycling programs face deeper fiscal insecurities. Intensified by today’s uncertain economic climate—not to mention the growing effects of climate change—it has become increasingly clear that recycling in the U.S. needs to be reinvented.

At Nestlé Waters North America, the country’s third largest beverage company, we are committed to advancing recycling policies to capture and reuse every beverage container produced. As a packaged goods company, driving a long-term recycling solution is our social and environmental responsibility. It also serves our business interests.

Recycling epitomizes the triple bottom line of “people, profit, planet” and is the cornerstone of a sustainable society. It reduces litter in our communities, saves businesses and organizations money by cutting back on energy and raw material costs, and protects the planet by conserving natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also drives economic growth. For example, a recent recycling study shows that if the U.S. could increase its recycling rate to 75% by 2030, it would create 1.5 million additional jobs. All we need is a way to get from 33% to 75%.

We believe we can get there with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and printed paper, a model that brings the financial responsibility of recycling to industry, increasing access to curbside recycling and recycling away from home, not just for bottles, but for all product packaging. Designed using private sector efficiencies, an EPR model would increase recycling rates, lower municipal spending on recycling and ultimately, reward taxpayers with fewer costs, smaller government and a more effective recycling system in their communities. Further, EPR promises packaged goods companies increasingly reliable access to recycled materials, so we are able to produce the more sustainable products our consumers increasingly want and expect from us.

To be successful, EPR demands collaboration with a broad range of stakeholder groups, including brand owners, trade associations, private haulers, municipalities, state legislatures, environmental NGOs, retailers and more. One stakeholder group we’ve been working deeply with is Recycling Reinvented, a new nonprofit committed to increasing recycling rates in the U.S. through EPR. We also participate in a dialogue process facilitated by Future 500, a nonprofit that bridges corporations and sustainability advocates, which has brought together more than 30 organizations to talk about the best attributes of an EPR model in the United States , and how to craft and successfully pass state-level legislation. We hope to move legislation in key states in 2013.

Business success today requires constant innovation to meet 21st century sustainability challenges. By collaborating with environmental advocates, industry partners and policymakers through an EPR model, we can increase U.S. recycling rates, provide supply chain stability and sustainability and create millions of green jobs. EPR can work—we’ve seen it demonstrated in Europe and helped pilot it in Canada. The time has come to band together to make it work in the U.S.

 

Michael Washburn is the Director of Sustainability at Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA). His primary focus is working with a coalition of recycling stakeholders to advance Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and printed paper in the United States. Michael’s work also includes building NWNA’s efforts towards innovation in energy usage and building design across its manufacturing facilities, encouraging constructive water policy initiatives and engaging with stakeholders about the environmental efforts of NWNA. Prior to NWNA, Michael held a senior position at The Wilderness Society and was Vice President of Brand Management at the Forest Stewardship Council-US. Michael holds a Ph.D. in forest policy from Penn State University and has served as an advisor to the USDA Forest Service on sustainability issues.  Michael serves on several nonprofit boards of directors and devotes significant time and energy to the fields of workplace giving and disability advocacy. 

[1] EcoWatch (May 29, 2012). Recycling Reinvented—Working with Top U.S. Industry Leaders to Bring EPR to the U.S. EcoWatch. Retrieved June 19, 2012.

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