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Tompkins Urges State Producer Responsibility Legislation

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Tompkins Urges State Producer Responsibility Legislation

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tompkins County is the latest municipality in New York State to call on the State Legislature to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation. It would require producers – or stewards – to take financial responsibility for collecting and recycling products at the end of their useful life and provide incentives to design products that are more durable, easy to repair and recycle, and less toxic.

According to the U-S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), manufactured goods and packaging constitute roughly 75% of the materials disposed of in the United States, with an estimated 164 million tons of material ending up in landfills each year.  State EPR legislation would help support Tompkins County’s waste diversion goals.

“Extended Producer Responsibility is a win-win for everyone,” said County Waste Reduction Specialist Kat McCarthy. “In New York, we already have legislation concerning rechargeable batteries, electronics, and deposit containers, along with pending legislation on mercury thermostats. These initiatives provide producers with a level playing field to develop smarter products, save money for municipalities, and give consumers additional end-of-life management opportunities for goods.”

The County Legislature also urged the State to enact product-specific legislation for paint. It would establish a system for statewide paint recycling that would require the paint industry establish a system to collect and manage the estimated 3.1 million gallons of leftover paint generated in New York State each year.

Solid Waste Division Manager Barbara Eckstrom said latex and oil-based paints represent more than half  of the materials collected at the County’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off events held six times a year, with the cost of this program covered by the solid waste annual fee.  Statewide, the cost of managing leftover paint represents 50% of municipal budgets for household hazardous waste collection.