Product stewardship bills still alive

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 30, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

All four of the product stewardship bills have moved through their same-house policy committees on party lines:

  • AB 2139 (Wesley Chesbro D-Eureka) Sharps, Household Pesticides and Small Propane Tanks,
  • AB 2176 (Robert Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys) Lighting,
  • AB 2398 (Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles) Carpet, and
  • SB 1100 (Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro) Batteries.

While supporters of extended producer responsibility (EPR) maintain that they want the manufacturers of products to share in the cost and responsibility of handling these products and packaging at the end of their useful life, these bills are crafted in such a way that the cost and responsibility become exclusively the manufacturer’s.

The current cost to industry for the Canadian Province of Ontario’s EPR plan to handle packaging and printed paper is $80 million. It is expected to rise to $350 million as industry takes on full responsibility for recovery and recycling.  Ontario has approximately one third the population of California so this cost would extrapolate to over a billion dollars for this state.  These costs would initially be borne by the manufacturers but passed on to the consumer as a hidden cost.  Paper and packaging is only one product group out of 70 being seriously considered for inclusion by CalRecycle (the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery) in a State-directed EPR program.

Local governments would like to see manufacturers take over the managing and funding of waste recovery.  They do not believe that they can tax their residents for the true cost. Almost all of these entities support an expansion of materials to be banned from landfills. The amount of materials has skyrocketed as we have become a more convenience- and disposable-oriented society. So too has the costs of handling – by as much as 16 fold.

The costs of an EPR program vary tremendously dependent upon the product itself, it’s recyclability, density, location of sale, etc.  The bills mentioned above require that the items be recovered from every city and county in the state.  The cost of recovery from rural areas would be significantly higher.

Anti-trust issues exist which have not been addressed in these bills nor in a 2009 paint industry supported bill, AB 1343 (Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael).  An anti-trust exemption is needed because companies would have to band together to decide how much to tax each other and how much the added cost to the customer would be.

CMTA’s Environmental Quality Committee ranked – and opposed – these four bills in the top 25 of the session. While CMTA and its members believe that companies should be good product stewards, we do not advocate a mandated government-run program.  The added cost to products would simply exacerbate the difficulty of California’s residents to cope with the present downturn in the economy and at the same time cost California additional manufacturing jobs.

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