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RE: [greenyes] Upstream...Consumer Waste Reduction Workshop


For this conference, there might also be interest in the European work that is looking at the environmental impacts of products -- see the web page http://cleantech.jrc.es/pages/r4.htm.

John

More in the Bank, Less From the Environment
>September 19,2005 until September 20, 2005
>
>
>The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a free two-day
>workshop on September 19-20, 2005 on consumer and organizational conservation.
>The two-day event will guide the participants to take a closer look at consumer
>spending and its impact on the environment. The workshop is for individuals,
>communities and organizations interested in saving money, protecting the
>environment, and improving personal and organizational performance. The seminar
>will be presented by A Nurtured World, Inc., of Austin, Texas. The workshop is
>open to the public. Registration is necessary to attend this event. Call the
>number below for more information.
>
>Contact: Audree Miller-501-682-0015
>miller@no.address
>More Info. : www.adeq.state.ar.us
>Agenda : www.nurturedworld.com
>
>
>Thomas Vinson-Peng
>University of Texas
>Southwest Network
>for Zero Waste
>10100 Burnet Rd. CEER-R 7100
>Austin, TX 78758
>512/232-7149
>FAX 512-471-1720
>tvinson@no.address
>www.zerowastenetwork.org
>
>Quoting Eric Lombardi <eric@no.address>:
>
>> Congrats to Bill and Helen !! It is absolutely true that
>what sets Zero
>> Waste apart from "total recycling" is the EPR revolution
>that is slowly
>> building. We need to all start paying more attention to the
>"upstream" part
>> of ZW, namely the amount of wasted resources, the toxicity
>of the products
>> and the free ride that "the market" is getting.
>>
>>
>>
>> Eric Lombardi
>>
>> Executive Director
>>
>> Eco-Cycle Inc
>>
>> 303-444-6634
>>
>> www.ecocycle.org
>>
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Bill Sheehan [mailto:bill.sheehan@no.address]
>> Sent: Monday, August 22, 2005 12:03 PM
>> To: GreenYesL
>> Subject: [greenyes] Editorial: Holy Grail for Zero Waste is EPR
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> "The Holy Grail for Zero Waste proponents is extended producer
>> responsibility (EPR) . Fortunately, the Zero Waste argument
>has finally been
>> laid out cogently in a paper published by the Product Policy
>Institute"
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Solid Waste & Recycling
>>
>>
>> June/July 2005
>>
>>
>> Editorial
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Zeroing in on Waste
>>
>>
>> By Guy Crittenden
>>
>>
>>
>> Like drifting continents, a slow-motion collision of two opposing
>> philosophies about waste is currently underway in North America.
>> Understanding what's at stake is crucial for anyone in the
>waste management
>> and recycling business, which is being rattled by seismic shifts.
>>
>>
>>
>> On one side is "integrated waste management" (IWM), an
>approach that seeks
>> to optimize the efficiency of waste diversion activities
>like composting and
>> recycling in coordination with disposal, which may include
>incineration
>> (preferably to co-generate power) and landfill (if only for
>ash). Dutch IWM
>> proponents recently made presentations to the City of
>Toronto about their
>> modern technologies and included waste-to-energy in their
>high "diversion"
>> numbers.
>>
>>
>>
>> IWM appeals to private sector and municipal waste managers
>who must cope
>> with the ever increasing flood of material that comes their way. IWM
>> proponents accept some flattening out the 3Rs hierarchy,
>since they don't
>> control the first two Rs: reduce and reuse. They have a job
>to do, right
>> now, and must answer to budget overseers or stock analysts,
>fluctuating
>> markets for recycled commodities, and limited or declining disposal
>> capacity. (Our cover story on page 8 expresses IWM concerns.)
>>
>>
>>
>> The other side is Zero Waste, a movement that originated among
>> environmentalists and academic think tanks; its core idea is
>that what we
>> call "waste" is actually the inefficient allocation of
>resources and energy.
>> Even if incinerators were proven safe and landfill space was
>abundant (the
>> IWM wet dream), Zero Waste proponents would argue against them. We're
>> consuming and discarding more and more resources, they say,
>and our focus on
>> recycling and disposal systems (even new "gee whiz" technologies) is
>> actually making matters worse.
>>
>>
>>
>> The Holy Grail for Zero Waste proponents is extended
>producer responsibility
>> (EPR) -- a term coined by a professor from Sweden where, ironically,
>> energy-from waste is popular. True EPR connects producers with the
>> downstream fate (and costs) of their products and packaging,
>and the price
>> signal creates a virtuous cycle: internalization of the full costs of
>> materials over their complete lifecycle drives
>eco-efficiencies up the value
>> chain, culminating in design for the environment.
>>
>>
>>
>> The economic premise of EPR is fundamentally sound and surprisingly
>> consistent with free market ideas. Unfortunately, the best
>ideas from the
>> Zero Waste movement have sometimes been confused with woolly central
>> planning policies and the discredited command-and-control approach to
>> regulation, with which they have little in common.
>>
>>
>>
>> Fortunately, the Zero Waste argument has finally been laid
>out cogently in a
>> paper published by the Product Policy Institute based in
>Athens, Georgia.
>> Authors Bill Sheehan -- former director of a Zero Waste
>coalition -- and
>> Helen Spiegelman (a board member of the respected British Columbia
>> environmental group SPEC) titled their paper "Unintended
>>
><http://www.productpolicy.org/assets/resources/UnintendedConseq
>uences-MSWand
>> EPR.pdf> Consequences: Municipal Solid Waste Management and
>the Throwaway
>> Society."
>>
>>
>>
>> Sheehan and Spiegelman note that the municipal solid waste
>management system
>> was established a century ago to protect public health but
>evolved in such a
>> way that it provided an indirect subsidy to the "throwaway society,"
>> collecting (at taxpayer expense) all the detritus of the
>consumer culture
>> and making it "go away." Rather than proselytize ordinary
>people to recycle
>> more (an IWM habit), Sheehan and Spiegelman instead suggest that
>> corporations and consumers are behaving in a rational way.
>With no price
>> connection between production and disposal, it's predictable
>that industry
>> would shift over the past half century toward the
>manufacture of expedient,
>> disposable products, often made from non-renewable materials
>and energy. (A
>> disposable plastic razor is a good example, as is a
>"recyclable" plastic
>> soft-drink container.)
>>
>>
>>
>> The authors state that if this subsidy ended (i.e., if municipalities
>> stopped collecting the stuff) the (seemingly) free ride for
>these materials
>> would stop and EPR would ensue.
>>
>>
>>
>> The authors analyzed the U.S. EPA's extensive waste
>characterization data
>> over the 41-year period from 1960 to 2001 to compare patterns in the
>> generation, recovery and discards of product and non-product
>wastes (e.g.,
>> organics). They observe that the municipal waste management
>system "has been
>> least effective in reducing manufactured product wastes, and
>most successful
>> in managing certain community generated biowastes."
>>
>>
>>
>> "The waste stream managed by local governments changed from
>one dominated by
>> coal ashes and relatively homogeneous food wastes a century
>ago, to one
>> dominated by product wastes today. Currently, product wastes
>comprise 75 per
>> cent of MSW by weight, and 89 per cent by volume," they write.
>>
>>
>>
>> Sheehan and Spiegelman note that "Recovery of yard trimmings
>is the big
>> success story" and suggest that organics processing could
>remain a municipal
>> service. But they advocate EPR for product waste and note
>that the recycling
>> rate for many materials has plateaued.
>>
>>
>>
>> I don't know how the collision of IWM and Zero Waste is
>going to unfold. It
>> may be that IWM is the best we can do for now and that
>implementation of
>> full EPR will be a task for the next generation. In any
>case, you owe it to
>> yourself to read this lucid paper.
>>
>>
>>
>> Available at http://www.productpolicy.org/assets/resources/SW
>>
><http://www.productpolicy.org/assets/resources/SW&R-Editorial-J
uly2005.pdf>
> &R-Editorial-July2005.pdf.
>
>
>
> Guy Crittenden is editor of this magazine. Email Guy at
> <mailto:gcrittenden@no.address> gcrittenden@no.address
>
>
>
>
> *************************************
> Bill Sheehan, Director
> Product Policy Institute
> P.O. Box 48433
> Athens, GA 30604-8433 USA
> Tel: 706-613-0710
> Email: bill@no.address
> Web: www.ProductPolicy.org
> *************************************
>
>





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