GreenYes Archives

[GreenYes Archives] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

RE: [greenyes] Any legitimate styrofoam recycling programsstill out there?

The "EPR Working Group" made up of US and Canadian members, took a stab at this when we put together the EPR "Essential Elements". These are on a special EPR Working Group site that is linked to the GRRN website: There you will see generic language about waste disposal and exports and about social justice. Needs lots more work!

Here in Canada, controversy is coming to a head over the USED OIL programs. The Petroleum Institute has been pushing a model of used oil EPR which oil re-refiners say is directing oil to burning rather than re-refining. In British Columbia there is a policy that "reuse" is better than "recycling" and "recycling" is better than (energy) "recovery". Same thing in Ontario. Question is: is this policy robust enough to require oil companies to have the used oil re-refined rather than burned?

In many places including BC, governments are invoking the principle of "scientifically based" decision-making, hoping to come up with data that will decide when and if, in such an example as this, burning can be better than re-refining oil.

We are holding several sessions at the Recycling Council of BC conference in early june looking at this.

First, there will be a very lively session between the Executive Director of the BC Used Oil Management Association and a spokesman for Safety-Kleen (a re-refiner) -- and hopefully someone from the provincial government who will explain to us how the government will decide who's right.

Second, there will be a panel on "Re-thinking the 3R hierarchy?" where we will try to sort out the trade-offs on a broader basis. Jeff Morris has agreed to speak on this panel about his work comparing recycling and energy recovery.

And this is only the debate about burning v. recycling of oil. "Science-based" people would say we should ask these questions on a case-by-case/product-by-product basis, rather than seeing the 3R hierarchy as a universal principle. So, should tires be recycled (into lower-grade "crumb" product) or burned to fire up paper mills?

And how about e-waste? Should old computers that were never designed for recycling be dismantled manually or shredded and treated like ore (smelting)?

And how about exports? Does shipping e-waste overseas help developing countries build healthy economies based on recycling (as Canada and the US argue) or does it make their economies dependent on cleaning up after our trash (as the EU and the developing countries argue)?


At 08:07 AM 3/15/2004, Eric Lombardi wrote:

You say ? ?Government needs to come up with standards that industry must achieve in end-of-life product management, to protect the environment and the long-term public interest.?

Do you have any ideas to offer along these lines? Has anyone (or govt) come up with language on this yet?


Eric Lombardi
Executive Director
Eco-Cycle, Inc
Boulder, CO
"Recycling may not save the world, but the recycling spirit might."

-----Original Message-----
From: Helen Spiegelman [mailto:hspie@no.address]
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 8:51 AM
To: Eric Lombardi
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Any legitimate styrofoam recycling programsstill out there?

Important small correction.

The "incentive component" is not "packaging taxes".

Rather, it is the real cost of managing difficult-to-manage products which. When these costs, which are currently paid by the public and/or Mother Nature and/or unorganized workers in developing countries, are shifted back where they belong (the companies who design and market the products) they become an "incentive component" all by themselves. Government doesn't have to lay hands on a penny.

The "top-down" government approach that is needed is a rule requiring producers to take back their products and figure out what to do with them.

The IMPORTANT COROLLARY to all this, now a hot issue in Canada, is GOVERNMENT setting standards for HOW the product will be managed. When government, in our names, gives responsibility/control to producers for managing their products, along with that responsibility/control must come ACCOUNTABILITY. Government needs to come up with standards that industry must achieve in end-of-life product management, to protect the environment and the long-term public interest. Otherwise, EPR will simply shift the bad management from local governments (who presently landfill products) to producers (who will of course choose the lowest-cost option!).

Two lessons here:
- "take-back" is not enough;
- lax standards for recycling/end use will merely shift the problem rather than solving it.


At 07:01 AM 3/15/2004, you wrote:

We are creating the most efficient low-cost systems to keep this stuff out
of the landfill. The hope is that someday, the producers will pay us to
run this program on their behalf. But that is not enough (I can hear Helen
S. now, and I agree with her)... we need a "re-design" incentive component
of the discard management system, and I think that is where a top-down
government approach is needed, similar to the packaging taxes in the EU.
In the USA, I don't hold much hope for that... but it is the correct path to
be upon, and in our small steps forward we must keep this larger vision in

[GreenYes Archives] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]