Thursday, March 25, 2010

First U.S. Framework Product Stewardship Law Signed Today

Today, after a show of unanimous bi-partisan support in the Maine legislature, the first extended producer responsibility "framework" legislation, LD 1631, was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci. Not only is this the first framework law in the nation, but the bill passed the legislature unanimously. 

Business, environmental groups and legislators came together to make it happen.  On a national press briefing this morning (organized by Product Policy Institute), the bill’s author, Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes (D-Yarmouth; photo at right), was joined by Chris Jackson of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Matt Prindiville from the Natural Resources Council of Maine (the state’s leading environmental advocacy organization).

To emphasize the national scope of the producer responsibility movement, we were joined by leaders from two states with framework bills in play: Rep. Paul Gardner of Minnesota and Rob D’Arcy, Chair of the California Product Stewardship Council.

Product Policy Institute has been working for five years to bring the framework producer responsibility approach to the U.S.  We developed the model framework producer responsibility legislation that was the starting point for Maine and several other states.

The movement is beginning to take hold.   We’re excited to see it finally bearing fruit in Maine.  It’s especially significant that the business and environmental communities worked together to make it happen.  Read PPI’s press release, and NRCM’s release

To Rep. Walsh Innes, Matt Prindiville and Chris Jackson: You rock!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Put Products and Packaging into US Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Submit Comments on the Draft US Greenhouse Gas Inventory by April 8th

EPA’S draft update of the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory (1990 – 2008) is open for comment. This is a great opportunity to get the systems -based, greenhouse gas accounting view added to the US Inventory.

While the US Inventory is required to follow international protocols (for the sake of consistency with other nations), EPA does have the latitude to include additional analysis, and to more clearly explain what the inventory is – and isn’t – portraying.

Both an EPA report and a Product Policy Institute (PPI) white paper issued in September 2009 showed that products and packaging (or goods and materials) are responsible for the largest share, by far, of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – 44% when you include global emissions of products produced abroad and consumed in the US. Links to both PPI and EPA reports and a New York Times article are here.

Comments are due by April 8.

To view the draft and submit a comment online, go to this link.  Please ask EPA (in your own words) to consider the following:

1. The US Inventory should integrate the systems-based view and present it alongside the traditional sector-based view. EPA recently published a “systems-based view” see chart, p. 11, of GHG emissions. Coupled with the traditional sector-based view, the systems-based view offers a much more comprehensive perspective on how the US contributes to GHG emissions. The general public and local policy makers find the systems-based view to be very informative and instructional in developing personal and policy actions to address climate change.

2. Consumption-related emissions should be formally acknowledged in the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The US Greenhouse Gas Inventory should be much more explicit in stating that the inventory is limited to emissions that physically originate within the national borders of the US. It should explain that the US also contributes to emissions that are counted in the inventories of other nations, as a consequence of imports. The emissions associated with US exports are less than those associated with US imports. When viewed from the perspective of consumption, the greenhouse gas impact of the US is higher than suggested by the traditional IPCC accounting standard. This is of great importance: consumption is the root cause of emissions, and failure to at least acknowledge the impacts of consumption exposes EPA to unnecessary criticism that the US Inventory is providing an incomplete picture of how the nation contributes to emissions (and indirectly, rewarding off-shoring of emissions and associated jobs).

3. Given the need to reduce the short-term impacts of greenhouse gases, it would be very helpful if the US Inventory portrayed results using both 100-year, and 20-year GWPs. While the IPCC standards require the use of 100-year Global Warming Potentials (GWPs), the Inventory correctly points out that other GWPs are also available, and including that analysis would be helpful to planners, policymakers, and the public.

Monday, March 15, 2010

From Newsweek’s review of Story of Stuff

Leonard’s motto: “You made it, you deal with it” (page 233). That means that manufacturers who produce toxic stuff need to deal with (and pay for) its disposal, a form of corporate responsibility that she calls Extended Producer Responsibility. Leonard suggests putting in place more policies like the one in 19 states that requires producers to take back old, unusable goods, such as computers, and pay for their recycling costs.

Her argument: “This is a great incentive for the producers to think hard about ways to eliminate toxics and design for repair and recycling, since they have to bear the cost of dealing with the stuff” (page 205).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Story of Bottled Water -- Coming March 22

Coming March 22: The Story of Bottled Water. “Cities all over are spending millions of dollars to deal with all the plastic bottles we throw out. What if we spent that money improving our water systems or better yet, preventing pollution to begin with?”

PPI is quoted in the accompanying script:
Three-quarters of the waste material that local governments are responsible for managing in North America is products and packaging; the costs of collecting PET bottles alone runs about $900 per ton. That amounts to welfare for the makers of products and packaging. Citizens and their governments would be better served if those funds were supporting schools, police and parks, and other services that the market cannot or will not provide, like public water fountains … In a time of tight budgets many local governments are asking why taxpayers and ratepayers, and not producers and consumers, are the ones paying to pick up products and associated packaging ‘designed for the dump.’ The costs of recycling and litter clean up should be the responsibility of producers and included in the purchase price.