Should Manufacturers Be Held Responsible for Product Waste and Recycling?

July 1, 2010

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The U. S. Conference of Mayors thinks so. At their 78th Annual meeting that took place in Oklahoma City on June 11-15th, the mayors endorsed ““Closing the Recycling Loop – Affirmative Sustainable Procurement Program” and supported the Extended Producer Responsibility for Products resolutions.  

The mayors are looking to Congress to support state governments in making producers and consumers of certain products responsible for their disposal or to fund recycling programs. Recycling can be extremely beneficial for consumers and environmentalists but is also carries its own price tag.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects and reports data on the generation and disposal of waste in the United States: In 2007, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash or 4.6 lb/person/ day. On average, we recycled and composted only 1.5 lb of our 4.6 lb of individual waste generation.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors is proposing that in reducing virgin resource reduction and increasing corporate responsibility to produce products that are made of recycled material and that are recyclable, it will have a positive economic and environmental impact on U.S. cities over the next 10 years.  The mayors are proposing the Sustainable Procurement Guidelines which are defined as

• Post Consumer Close Loop Stewardship in which a manufacturer reclaims its own product waste and reuses that waste in new products.

• Post Consumer Open Loop Content in which a manufacturer uses other’s people waste for new products.

• Pre-Consumer/Post Industrial Content in which manufacturer reclaims manufacturing waste and uses it in new products.

With these resolutions,” the U.S. Conference of Mayors believe that we can begin to shift the fiscal burden of waste and empower industry to embrace resource responsibility by rewarding stewardship through purchasing and economic development strategies. If cities, communities and the federal government commit to the purchase of products with the highest level of environmental stewardship then Industry will begin to accept financial responsibility for both the virgin resource input and the waste output that flows through the corporation.” Will the manufacturers agree that this is a good idea?

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