3. Infrastructure – Will legislation be responsible for initiating independent infrastructure or can a municipality employ the existing system to ease the burden? Established industry-sponsored product stewardship programs—like Call2Recycle, CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort) and Paint Care—have very different approaches to infrastructure based on the type of products they handle and the maturation of their programs. Legislation for new programs will differ greatly, especially for emerging product categories. However, partnering with an established program can provide fiscal and administrative relief for the municipalities that are facing known product stewardship initiatives. This is especially relevant for product categories with hazardous materials considerations.
4. Consumable vs. Durable – What is disposed? Is it expected to be consumed or is it durable? Paint, for instance, is expected to be fully consumed and hypothetically have nothing left for disposal. In contrast, a battery remains even when it has been fully consumed. Measuring performance of these product stewardship approaches and how these programs educate the public are very different. Recycling MORE paint may not be the goal – consuming all of it may be. A legislative approach to these two materials must be fundamentally different.
The Conundrum of the Municipality
Municipalities are driving what they see. Mattresses and carpeting are large and bulky materials, consuming a great deal of space in transfer stations and landfills. This provides a top-of-mind concern to municipalities as they can see the space taken by the products. Batteries consume no more than 1/10 of 1% of landfill space and are neither bulky nor visible, thus they are often given a lower level of priority on a municipality’s list of action items. There are, however, potentially harmful side effects associated with products like batteries and paint, which make improper disposal an important consideration. Weighted properly, adverse health effects, for example, would move a product category up in priority.
Legislation evaluated through thoughtful distinctions and considerations like these can help affect positive environmental changes that benefit municipalities, consumers and the environment.
Carl Smith, president and CEO of Call2Recycle, North America’s first and largest battery stewardship and recycling program. Smith leads the organization in its efforts to help preserve the environment through responsible recycling of batteries. With more than 322 million wireless devices (phones, tablets, and e-readers) in use in the U.S. alone—all powered by rechargeable batteries—recycling both the battery and the device are more important than ever before.