UPSTREAM Quarterly – March 2015

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The Evolution of EPR for Packaging in the United States

Matt PrindivilleBy Matt Prindiville, Associate Director

As UPSTREAM fans may know, we’ve been involved in the EPR Packaging debates in the United States for nearly four years now. While there has been significant opposition from many consumer brands during this time, there has been a groundswell of support building from local governments, as well as an openness from some waste and recycling businesses to this policy approach. Continue reading

UPSTREAM Quarterly – December 2014

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UPSTREAM’s Next Big Chapter

Executive Director, Bill Sheehan, Ph.D.By Bill Sheehan – Executive Director

I have some exciting news to share: UPSTREAM is planning a leadership transition next summer. Matt Prindiville, our Associate Director, will take over as Executive Director on July 1, 2015. After 12 years at the helm, I will be moving to a half-time position, focusing on research and writing. This also opens up more time for me to explore hobbies and travel. But as my wife reminded me, I may have to take down the plaque in my office that says, “I can’t clean house and save the world at the same time!”

I feel honored to have had the opportunity to lead UPSTREAM since its founding. It’s been a gift to get up every morning and work on our mission to advance sustainability and reduce climate disruption through product-focused environmental policies. My personal trajectory in the public-interest sector over the past two decades has been closely linked with two sustainability movements. Twenty years ago I co-founded and led the organization that launched the Zero Waste movement in North America.

When I came to understand that transformative change needs to start “upstream”, I focused on helping to bring extended producer responsibility to the United States by co-founding Product Policy Institute – now called UPSTREAM to more accurately reflect this emphasis. I take pride in knowing that closing the loop on producer responsibility is now widely accepted in the United States, as is the need for a strong government role to ensure accountability and transparency.

But the time comes to pass the baton, so that the next generation can make its mark on the world. I know that UPSTREAM will be in capable hands. Matt has done a remarkable job to inspire, organize, and coordinate NGOs, local governments, businesses, and everyday people to build a grassroots movement for product-focused environmental policies. He has the strategic and interpersonal skills to be a great Executive Director, as well as the passion and commitment to make the world a better place. I have every confidence that he will take UPSTREAM to a whole new level.

I want to end with an appeal for your help. Making the transition to a new generation of leadership can be challenging; many organizations struggle following the departure of a founder. In our case, success will depend on securing resources to hire a program director next summer to take over Matt’s current duties. Please consider contributing to help us make a successful leadership transition. Click here to donate online.

Thanks again for your friendship and support over the years. It has been my honor and privilege to serve and advocate for UPSTREAM’s mission as Executive Director.

 Project Updates

Make It, Take It Packaging Campaign Grows
MITI logo
The KRAFT campaign action went to more than 300,000 people, and at least 30,000 people took action asking the company to ditch the Capri Sun pouch. KRAFT responded to the initial request but declined to address our concerns. We then sent a response letter back to KRAFT that included 23 organizations representing more than 5 million members acknowledging their response to the campaign and urging them to open up a dialogue on developing a company-wide sustainable packaging policy encompassing design, reduction, reuse and recycling, litter prevention and pollution mitigation. They missed the deadline to respond in mid-November, and we are planning our next set of actions with Campaign partners. Stay tuned!

The campaign’s support strengthens due to Greenpeace, Story of Stuff and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) joining the campaign. In addition, Corporate America took notice of the campaign. Through our extended network, we were forwarded several power-point presentations from packaging suppliers, consumer goods companies, and their consultants discussing the Make It, Take It Campaign and the potential impact it could have on packaging decisions by consumer brands.  

UpstreamEPRpaper2014-cover-thumbnail-right-sizeLocal Government EPR Packaging Paper Released for Comment
On November 19th, we released Advancing Local Government’s Interests through Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, a discussion paper resulting from a six-month policy dialogue among local government recycling experts, which UPSTREAM convened and facilitated from May through October 2014. The paper is open for a 30-day comment period. We are marketing the paper to the product stewardship councils and other key local government associations and individuals to comment.

cradle2-logoCRADLE2 Coalition Restructures

Steering Committee members charted a collaborative work plan for next year. The group decided to engage more local governments through our subcommittees and will be adding a pharmaceuticals subcommittee for 2015. CRADLE2 will remain a public NGO product policy coalition convened and facilitated by UPSTREAM with most of the work happening within the subcommittees. The Steering Committee members will nominate and track outreach to local/state governments, academics, and other NGO colleagues that we would like to invite to be a part of the discussion.

money_signDONATE Today

Support UPSTREAM’s leadership transition and work to advance sustainability and reduce climate disruption through product-focused environmental policies. 

Click here to donate online today.

UPSTREAM Highlights

UPSTREAM’s Packaging Work Making a Differenceearth in box
In 2011, when UPSTREAM began working on packaging in earnest, virtually no major consumer goods companies were focused on packaging waste. The exception was the beverage industry’s efforts to fight bottle bills throughout the country. Over the last three years, UPSTREAM and our partners (the CRADLE2, plastic pollution, and Make It, Take It Campaign organizations) and strategic allies (As You Sow, Future 500, and Recycling Reinvented) have leveraged markets, policy, and shareholder pressure to focus Corporate America’s attention on sustainable packaging issues. In 2014, there were three significant signals from big business that they bear some responsibility for addressing packaging waste in the United States:

  • In April, at the Walmart Sustainability Expo, nearly a dozen CEOs from the world’s largest consumer goods companies admitted that we have a recycling problem in the United States, and that corporate America bears some responsibility for fixing it. To that end, they announced the creation of a 100 million Closed Loop Recycling Fund to loan to municipalities for investments in recycling.
  • Just before this, several of these same companies – together with a number of packaging suppliers – announced the creation of the Southeast Recycling Development Council, a grants program to leverage industry money into investments in recycling for the most under-performing region in the United States.
  • And this last summer, we saw several packaging suppliers announce their support for passing state-level public policy to boost packaging recovery.

We see these developments as major indicators that our collective work is paying off. The challenge now is to leverage these positive steps from industry toward more systemic changes like commitments to sustainable design and increased industry funding and management of spent packaging through statewide extended producer responsibility initiatives.

iStock_000023613968Medium (1)Canada EPR Programs Triple since 2009
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) released a recent progress report on the Canada-Wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (CAP-EPR) that was established in 2009. The progress report shows that the “number of product categories covered by legislation or programs has increased from 33 to 94.” For more information, see the recent article in Resource Recycling.

UPSTREAM Holds Board Retreat and Elects New Officers
The annual board retreat was held in Los Angeles November 7-8. The Board heard reports from the program, resources, and communications committees; reviewed the executive director2014-retreat pix-001 transition plan; and held the official annual meeting at which new officers were elected for 2015: Mark Hays, president; Dawn Erlandson, vice president; Steve Sherman, treasurer; and David Stitzhal, secretary.

UPSTREAM West Coast Advisory Board Luncheon
The day before our board retreat, on November 7, UPSTREAM’s board member Marion Hunt hosted a luncheon in San Francisco for the four Advisory Council members who live in the Bay Area: Susan Clark, Kamal El-Wattar, Mike Biddle and Daniella Russo. The lunch meeting, held at the beautiful Greens restaurant overlooking the Bay, showcased a creative and vibrant group of Advisors, who gave valuable input into UPSTREAM’s planning process for 2015.

 UPSTREAM in the NewsCapture2

Upcoming UPSTREAM EventsHappy friends, family with dog and cat jumping at sunset

January 27th – Webinar – Increasing Packaging Recycling in the United States
Matt Prindiville, UPSTREAM Associate Director, will discuss the need for legislative solutions to boost packaging recycling via a webinar organized by the Product Stewardship Institute. The topic is about increasing packaging recycling in the United States with a focus on how voluntary and legislative solutions can move the needle. Matt will share the panel with Ron Gonen, from the Walmart Closed Loop Fund, and Keefe Harrison from the Recycling Partnership. For more information and to register, visit

February – Webinar – Extended Producer Responsibility and Zero Waste
Matt was also invited to join a panel on extended producer responsibility and Zero Waste with Neil Seldman with the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR).


Daniella Dimitrova RussoIn an effort to highlight the great work of many sustainability professionals, each issue of this newsletter will feature an UPSTREAM Board member, Advisory Council member, or NGO. Please meet UPSTREAM Advisory Council member Daniella Dimitrova Russo, chief executive officer of Think Beyond Plastic™, a global forum and business accelerator focused on disruptive innovation and entrepreneurial solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

Q. What inspired you to become an UPSTREAM Advisory Council member?
UPSTREAM plays a profound and transformative role in addressing end-of-life issues with plastic. The organization works on developing strategies that incorporate reasonable responsibility for products’ end of life, coupled with economic incentives for businesses that do so, which ties to my work at Think Beyond Plastic™.

Q. Tell us about your business accelerator venture.
In the last 20 years, the world has consumed more plastic than during the entire 20th century. From 1.5 million tons in 1957 to 256 million tons in 2010, global plastic production has exploded, especially the sectors for disposable plastic such as packaging, plastic bottles, plastic lids, plastic film, and plastic utensils.

This high consumption demonstrates major challenges with plastic’s end of life and has led to massive pollution and eco-system degradation. In the United States plastics recycling hovers around 10% leaving vast quantities of plastic destined for landfills, roadsides, and our ocean.

The inherent dichotomies of consumer convenience delivered at the price of eco-system degradation can be addressed through disruptive thinking. The Think Beyond Plastic™ project (an Innovation Forum and a Business Accelerator) embraces plastic pollution as an innovation challenge, and encourages such disruptive thinking and innovative ideas that challenge the status-quo and the current perceptions about plastic products.

The Think Beyond Plastic™ Accelerator advances businesses in all stages with a solid business model, talented management team, and disruptive solutions to plastic pollution. The businesses must measurably reduce plastic pollution with a focus on plastic waste, eco-system degradation and human health. They can develop and sell materials, infrastructure, retail, or commercial products. The Accelerator accepts both established businesses with existing revenues and customer base, that may need Series A or Series B funding, as well as early-stage businesses who need seed funding.

Q. How can EPR policies help business innovation to address plastic pollution?
When manufacturers are asked to accept responsibility for the end of life of their products, that opens the path for innovators and entrepreneurs to build solutions that are cost-efficient, and scale and address the challenge. It is a win-win situation for businesses and for consumers alike. The effective EPR policies need to take into account that businesses might incur associated costs and build in incentives for participation, not penalties for resisting. It is essential that businesses help formulate EPR policies and that they see a business advantage in doing so, which will result in a successful model for all.


Project Highlights  | Take Action | UPSTREAM HighlightsLegislation Updates  | UPSTREAM in the News  | Spotlight

Embodied Energy in “Stuff” Drives Climate Disruption
Executive Director, Bill Sheehan, Ph.D.

By Bill Sheehan – Executive Director

UPSTREAM’s Board and staff has been thinking recently about what makes us uniquely positioned to serve an important role in reducing climate disruption.

While there’s little argument among scientists that our planet and civilization faces an existential threat from climate change, almost everyone looking for practical solutions is focused on reducing direct energy use – from burning coal and other fossil fuels to produce electricity, to using fuel to heat and cool buildings, to driving automobiles. These are undeniably major contributors to climate disruption; reducing their impacts and finding alternatives is crucial.

So why does UPSTREAM focus on materials?

Studies show that energy embodied in manufactured materials (products and associated packaging) is extremely important. UPSTREAM’s study from 2009, based on US Environmental Protection Agency data and methodology, showed that 44% of US greenhouse gas impacts, measured globally, are from extraction, manufacturing, transportation and use of products. Embodied energy in goods is greater than energy used in heating and cooling and local passenger transportation. Other American and European studies using “consumption-based greenhouse gas accounting” show even greater amounts of “embodied energy” in goods and materials as a portion of total greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding embodied energy in the “stuff” of our daily lives is a key to making production and consumption systems more sustainable, as described in a recent UPSTREAM blog post.

That shouldn’t be surprising when you think about our consumer culture and the rise of big-brand high-volume, low cost marketing from increasingly globalized supply chains.

What’s really sobering is that many of the world’s seven billion people don’t have enough food or goods – they need to consume more! And global population is projected to increase by two billion within the next 35 years, almost all in developing economies.

However you look at it, satisfying human material wants and needs is directly linked to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

So when we thought about the essence of UPSTREAM’s work, our Board and staff came up with this description:

UPSTREAM works to reduce climate disruption and advance sustainability through product-focused environmental policies.

How are we achieving our mission? We conduct original research, develop model policies and educational materials, and organize key stakeholders. We work with public interest groups, government officials, leading companies, and everyday people to advocate for product stewardship initiatives in which consumer goods companies are responsible for reducing or eliminating environmental impacts of their products.

UPSTREAM’s mission is ambitious. It’s only one piece of solving the climate-sustainability puzzle, but we believe it’s a critical piece. I invite you to read below about the work UPSTREAM and our partners have been doing in the last quarter. You can follow and engage with us by joining our email list, action alerts, and by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Project Highlights

Make It, Take It Packaging Campaign Moves Forward
Momentum and progress continue for this campaign as we gather metrics from our campaign partners on the KRAFT effort. So far, the campaign action went out to 275,000 MITI logopeople, and at least 20,000 people took action. Our partner list increased to 11 and now includes Dogwood Alliance – an organization with solid market campaign experience on packaging through their successful Kentucky Fried Forests Campaign, targeting KFC’s packaging previously made from virgin southern Appalachian forests. KRAFT failed to respond to our sign-on letter sent to KRAFT with 22 partner organizations representing more than 2 million Americans. The letter requested acknowledgement of the campaign ideals and a dialogue on packaging by August 15.

Our big picture strategy includes corresponding with the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families about their market campaign, Mind the Store. This campaign pursues the nation’s top-10 retailers to push them to develop plans for their vendors to phase out the use of 100 hazardous chemicals. Through the fall, we will continue our efforts to spur KRAFT foods and other consumer goods companies to:

  1. Design packaging from safe, sustainable materials using recycled content, while minimizing unnecessary packaging;
  2. Design packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable;
  3. Support policies to ensure 90% of your packaging gets reused, recycled or composted; and
  4. Help mitigate packaging that winds up in the environment, especially plastic packaging.

Calling Local Government on Packaging
UPSTREAM began a new call series for a select group of 17 loTown_Hallcal government participants from seven states and Usman Valiante, a Canadian EPR expert. After five calls, the group is developing a discussion paper to:

  • Identify key local government issues and concerns regarding extended producer
    responsibility (EPR) for packaging and printed paper;
  • Propose recommendations for resolving potential local government issues with the implementation of EPR programs;
  • Build local government knowledge and capacity around EPR to assist in negotiations with producers; and
  • Provide a platform for local governments to support and advocate for EPR for packaging programs that successfully advance their goals and interests.

UPSTREAM Expands to Include a New Advisory Council

On June 20th, UPSTREAM announced the creation of our new Advisory Council – a group of dedicated thought leaders willing to share their expertise on areas essential to UPSTREAM’s mission and goals.

The ten members are:

  • Mike Biddle – Founder of MBA Polymers
  • Brent Blackwelder – retired President of Friends of the Earth
  • Susan R. Clark – Director of Programs for Gaia Fund
  • Tamar Datan – Executive Director of TrueSpark
  • Kamal El-Wattar – Co-leader of Kamanya Foundation
  • Jon Hinck – Environmentalist, Lawyer, and Politician
  • Hillary Husted – Graphic Designer
  • Daniella Dimitrova Russo – CEO of Think Beyond Plastic™
  • Joan Benoit Samuelson – first woman Olympic marathon winner
  • Wood Turner – Stonyfield Farm

The new Advisory Council will help shape the organization in many different areas by
sharing their professional expertise and passion for upstream solutions – the root causes of environmental harm.

CRADLE2 Coalition Holds EPR Financing Call Series
Over the past several years, EPR advocates have had difficulty passing legislation that holds producers directly responsible for financing take-back programs, which was the trend with e-waste and and other hazardous product legislation passed from 2004-2011. The trend for politically-winnable bills has moved from producer financing (cost internalization of environmental management) to consumer fee-based bills (paint, mattresses, and now mercury lamps). This trend concerns advocates who want to harness market forces to drive transformative change. We began our call series on fee-based vs cost internalization on the August CRADLE2 Call, and plan to continue through October. The outcome will be a position statement on EPR Financing.

Take Action

Tell KRAFT Foods to “Respect the Planet. Stop the Pouch.”MITI_Capri Sun Infographic

Did you know that an estimated 1.4 billion Capri Sun pouches are landfilled or littered each
year in the United States? Stacked end to end, that’s enough pouches to wrap around the Earth almost five times (121,527 miles). It’s nearly half-way to the moon! Capri Sun pouches are made by bonding aluminum and several layers of plastic together making them difficult to impossible to recycle. Read more and sign the petition.

UPSTREAM Highlights

Carton Council Moves Ahead on Policies to Boost Recycling
Matt Prindiville, UPSTREAM’s Associate Director, was invited to present at the Carton Council’s listening session in Minneapolis on boosting US recycling rates through public policy. While other industry associations like AMERIPEN and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have identified public policy tools to boost recycling (like pay as you throw, universal recycling, landfill bans, etc.) the Carton Council seems willing to actually do the hard work of getting policies passed. This is a refreshing turn of events and could lead to greater producer engagement around recycling policies.

UPSTREAM Discusses the Politics Around EPR Policy in the United States
Matt also presented to the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association on The Politics of Extended Producer Responsibility: Moving Forward in Hard Times. The presentation illustrated the political realities behind the first two phases of EPR legislation in the United States and posited a four point strategy for moving strong EPR legislation forward in rough political times.

Legislation Updates

State House

With most state legislatures now in recess, four product policy bills have been passed into law, including a first-in-the-nation battery stewardship bill in Vermont and a paint stewardship bill in Colorado. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) helped develop the bills, which were both industry-supported. The main lobbying power came from local government product stewardship councils and industry.

In addition, a first-in-the-nation law to phase out the use of microbeads in personal care products was passed in Illinois. We continue to have high hopes for the passage of a stronger bill in California which our friends at 5 Gyres are spearheading.

Lastly, we’re very excited about the tremendous work of our California allies, especially our board member, Leslie Tamminen, in their against-all-odds victory in passing the nation’s first statewide ban on plastic bags. It is now headed to Governor Brown’s desk, where it is all but assured that he will sign it.

UPSTREAM in the NewsEcological concept


Dawn Erlandson

Minneapolis, MN

In an effort to highlight the great work of the sustainability professionals in our network, each issue of our newsletter will feature an UPSTREAM Board member, Advisory Council member, or NGO Partner. Please meet, Dawn Erlandson, founder and president of Aurora Strategic Advisors, a public affairs and communications consultancy.

Q. How has your work impacted EPR, source reduction, or recycling initiatives? 

A. Through two different initiatives. First, I worked on tax policies to drive environmental performance using a market tool to drive environmental performance through taxing areas that were detrimental to the environment and providing incentives to encourage positive environmental results.

And, I worked as a consultant for 5 years in the Twin Cities for the counties in the region to craft and implement a communications and marketing plan that would increase awareness and participation in source reduction, recycling, and composting.

Q. What are some of the issues you will focus on this year either as a board member or in your organization? 

A. In support of UPSTREAM’s mission, I think packaging is one of the top areas we need to focus on because the public doesn’t pay attention to it. We buy items and throw the packaging away – not thinking that it might be recyclable or reusable. Manufacturers need to take more responsibility for the packaging content of the items they sell, and consumers need to become more aware of the choices they have such as buying in bulk or choosing items packaged in recyclable or reusable containers.

Q. Is there an article/book/presentation you would like to highlight and note in this issue? 

A. A book that inspired me a long time ago was the Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. It resonates with UPSTREAM’s goals. It also provides the foundation for one of the newer industry buzz words, circular economy. Hawken describes how industry extracts from our natural resources to create the items we need and then dispose of those items – basically creating a linear approach: take, make, waste. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and sustainable, suggests Hawkens, to create a restorative economy – where business would mimic nature and recycle waste to nourish other systems conserving both energy and resources.

Q. What inspired you to become an UPSTREAM board member? 

A. I worked in the environmental movement for 15 years as an executive director and focused on policy change in both Washington D.C. and Minnesota. I met Bill and liked his vision. He inspired me to get involved with a national organization looking at cutting edge policy that is upstream in the decision-making process of business. Meeting the other board members and Matt also made me think about how my skills could be used to achieve UPSTREAM’s mission and what I could do help the organization.



UPSTREAM Quarterly – May 2014

Project Highlights  | Take Action | Legislation Updates  | UPSTREAM in the News  | Spotlight

Starting the Next Chaptermark hays

By Mark Hays – President, UPSTREAM Board of Directors

It’s been six months since Product Policy Institute became UPSTREAM, and the amount of activity we’ve seen since then reflects the growing momentum that led us to change our name in the first place.

We’ve revamped our website, doubled our social media friends and followers, presented at six conferences, co-facilitated an industry/NGO workshop on packaging, coordinated and supported efforts on twelve bills in eight different states, supported efforts to phase out plastic microbeads in personal care products, and launched a major collaborative campaign to pressure big companies to take responsibility for packaging waste. There’s enough going on that it is difficult to keep track!

Given all this activity, it would be tempting for us to imagine that a world – where extended producer responsibility is a common practice – is just around the corner. But, as many of you know, the reality is there’s a great deal of work still needed to even scratch the surface when it comes to reckoning with the colossal problem of waste and its impacts on our environment, health, and communities.

What’s more, there are a wide range of challenges we face in seeking a more sustainable economy that harnesses upstream solutions to address the root causes of waste – cash-strapped local governments, complex and thorny supply chains, shifting trends in packaging and product design that create new waste problems even as they solve old ones – just to name a few.

Yet, looking at these challenges, I’m still optimistic for the simple reason that the spirit of advocacy around EPR, waste reduction and product stewardship is based on the idea that the ‘problems’ we face are often opportunities if you view them from a different perspective, and often contain their own solutions.

I’m confident that UPSTREAM is well-positioned to find those opportunities and advocate for change that will help realize the potential of all those opportunities. And, one reason I have that confidence is that I know our work is made more effective and further-reaching in large part because of our partners, supporters, allies and friends like you. So, in that spirit, and in an effort to continue to broaden the dialogue on the potential of producer responsibility to transform our society’s relationship to waste and resources, we invite you to take a look at our new e-newsletter for more in-depth updates on our work, the latest trends in upstream solutions, and thought-provoking ideas from some of the leading voices in this field.

We hope this newsletter will be a valuable resource for you in your ongoing work and advocacy, and look forward to sharing more with you – and hearing from you as well –in the months ahead!

Project Highlights

Make It, Take It Packaging Campaign Launches

We’re thrilled to announce that the Make It, Take It Campaign – a collaborative effort to pressure companies to take responsibility for packaging waste – was launched on April 30th. Over the past year, UPSTREAM brought together organizations working on plastic pollution, resourceMITI logo conservation/paper and zero waste/recycling issues to jointly create the campaign. The groups include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Water Action, Green America, Sierra Club EPR Team, Waterkeeper Alliance, Plastic Pollution Coalition, 5 Gyres, Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Eureka Recycling. Together, these organizations have a combined outreach of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens. The coalition chose Kraft’s Capri Sun plastic laminate pouches as the first target because they are emblematic of a broader problem in packaging design: the switch to flexible plastic packaging that is designed to be thrown away. We will be sustaining this effort through the summer, and will release our next campaign action in July.

EPR Packaging Summit Signals Shift in Business Perspectivesearth in box
On March 4, UPSTREAM and Future500 hosted an invitation-only forum for 40 public-interest, business and government stakeholders working on extended producer responsibility, source reduction, and recycling initiatives for packaging. The purpose of the summit was to pull together key stakeholders and experts working on packaging design and recycling to understand and align NGO, business and government needs, priorities and perspectives. While there was not agreement over EPR for packaging or container deposits as presented, there was general agreement that producers bear some financial responsibility for minimizing packaging waste and increasing recovery. Key obstacles to building a broad enough coalition to pass EPR legislation are a) unknown financial exposure for the brand-owners and b) the issue of who controls the system for local governments, waste haulers and MRF operators/processors.

UPSTREAM Launches Local Government Packaging Call Series
Following the EPR packaging summit, we assessed the landscape and potential for moving EPR for packaging forward in the United States. While there has been a tremendous amount of activity by many stakeholders on this subject, there has not been a widespread outpouring of support from brands, local governments or waste/recycling businesses. A lot of this is due to confusion as well as legitimate concerns over too much producer control in the policy options currently being implemented in British Columbia and presented in the United States. To answer this, we’ve created a call series with a select group of local and state government officials to: (1) Identify the key barriers to support for EPR from local governments, waste haulers recyclers and NGOs; (2) Develop policies that directly address those barriers and win support for a strong, market-based EPR proposal.

UPSTREAM Supports the Phase-out of Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Productsmicroplastic
In January, UPSTREAM teamed up with 5 Gyres – a plastic pollution research and advocacy organization – to push cosmetics manufacturers to phase out the use of plastic microbeads, an unnecessary ingredient and widespread source of plastic pollution in the environment. We co-developed a fact sheet and worked with 5 Gyres, CRADLE2 and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to engage legislators and NGOs on the issue. Our strategy of trying to persuade the US Environmental Protection Agency to convene a dialogue between NGOs and industry to set mediated phase-out deadlines for microbeads users reached a dead end when, after weeks of petitioning and some negotiating, EPA declined our request to convene a dialogue. At this point, we are waiting to see what happens with the legislation introduced in California and New York. If either bill passes, we will have accomplished what we needed to do with a dialogue legislatively. Huge kudos to our friends at 5 Gyres for their remarkable work in getting this issue in the press and getting traction in the CA and NY state legislatures.

CRADLE2 Coalition Sets Agenda for 2014 On January 24th, the CRADLE2 Coalition met in Providence, Rhode Island for our annual meeting to develop our 2014 work plan and strategize for the upcoming year. The group unanimously gave approval to expand the scope of the coalition’s work beyond just EPR to include upstream policies focused on eliminating or mitigating the environmental impacts of products and packaging. We planned subcommittee work on packaging, phased-out our paint committee and created new committees on source reduction and batteries. We also brainstormed and developed outlines for five coalition projects, and discussed how to better harmonize our legislative policy work.

New SIERRA CLUB Zero Waste-Producer Responsibility TeamSierra Club EPR Team
UPSTREAM helped co-create a new team within the Sierra Club’s Grassroots Network to advocate for local, state and corporate policies to eliminate waste at the source — by holding producers responsible for good design and end-of-life management. UPSTREAM’s Bill Sheehan chairs the team, and it includes Sierra Club members and CRADLE2 partners Robin Schneider (TX), Heidi Sanborn (CA), and Lynne Pledger (MA). The Team is currently promoting campaigns aimed at getting battery maker Rayovac to take back its disposable single-use batteries and to get the pharmaceutical industry in California to pay for take-back of unwanted medicines. The Team is recruiting new Sierra Club members through Sierra EPR Twitter and Facebook pages, and a Grassroots Network website.

UPSTREAM to hold EPR-Financing Call Series
Over the past several years, EPR advocates have had difficulty passing legislation that holds producers directly responsible for financing take-back programs, which was the trend with e-waste and most mercury products legislation passed from 2004-2011. The trend for politically-winnable bills has moved from producer financing (cost internalization of environmental management) to consumer fee-based bills (paint, mattresses, and now mercury lamps): a situation which concerns many advocates. UPSTREAM/CRADLE2 will hold a call series on fee-based vs cost internalization starting in June to discuss with the broader product stewardship community.

Take Action

Tell KRAFT Foods to “Respect the Planet. Stop the Pouch.”

Did you know that an estimated 1.4 billion Capri Sun pouches are landfilled or littered each year in the United States?Stacked end to end, that’s enough pouches to wrap around the Earth almost five times (121,527 miles). It’s nearly half-way to the moon! Capri Sun pouches are made by bonding aluminum and several layers of plastic together making them difficult to impossible to recycle. Read more and sign the petition.

Legislation Updates

State House

UPSTREAM is coordinating and supporting work on 12 bills this legislative session. Here’s a brief rundown:

    • Batteries: CA, VT – A deal on batteries is close that may pave the way for success on batteries this legislative session. Heidi Sanborn from the California Product Stewardship Council has been negotiating with representatives from the rechargeable and alkaline battery associations that allows for mutual compensation in the event that alkalines are collected with rechargeables and visa-versa. If this deal goes through, the prospects for all three bills are good. The VT bill has passed the House.
    • Bottle Bills: MN – UPSTREAM provided comments on the proposed plan for a container deposit system in MN. Despite a significant discussion and a Committee hearing prompted by the MN Pollution Control Agency’s report and study on the economics of a bottle bill proposal, the bill was never officially introduced. The beverage industry and MN Grocers & Retailers Associations put a lot of effort into mobilizing opposition at the informational hearing.
    • E-waste: MA – The bill passed relevant Environment Committee and is now on to the Senate Committee.
    • Mercury-containing Lamps: WA state passed a negotiated bill between the state agency and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) representing the lighting manufacturers. While this compromise was necessary to preserve and roll out the EPR program passed several years ago, the mediated bill locks in a fee-based financing mechanism instead of full cost-internalization (in the Maine law) which we prefer and promote. This is another example of consumer fee-based bills (paint, mattresses, and now mercury lamps) having greater success than cost-internalization bills – an unfortunate and dubious trend. UPSTREAM/CRADLE2 will hold a call series on fee-based vs cost internalization starting in June to discuss with the broader product stewardship community.
    • Paint: MA, WA – Because of the extremely short session and lack of time to work out the necessary details, the WA bill is dead for the year. However, there were good negotiations between Zero Waste Washington (our CRADLE2 partner), local government reps, waste haulers, and the paint industry which bodes well for next year. In, MA, PSI is leading this effort with some support from our C2 partner there. Prospects for success are good.
    • Plastic Bag Bans: RI, VT – We submitted comments in support of the Rhode Island Plastic Waste Reduction Act. The bill had a hearing on March 20. Despite strong support, the bill is unlikely to pass this year.
    • Pharmaceuticals: CA – We drafted and submitted comments in support of the CA Safe Medication Management Bill. Despite heroic efforts from CalPSC and many others, the bill is dead for this year.
    • Mircrobeads Bans: CA, NY, – The bills were introduced considerable media attention and fanfare. The Attorney General’s office in New York succeeded in generating significant attention and involvement from NY’s environmental community, and 5Gyres did the same in California. Both bills have had their relevant hearings and 5 Gyres and local advocates are in negotiations with the personal care products industry of phase-out timelines. The prospects for success are good.

UPSTREAM in the News

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network: Maine Man Leads National Effort to Reduce Packaging Waste – April 30, 2014

Sustainable Brands: “Make It, Take It’ Campaign Pressures Companies to Take Responsibility for Packaging Waste – April 30, 2014

Plastic News: Consortium targets Capri Sun in new push to emphasize recycling – April  30, 2014


In an effort to highlight the great work of many sustainability professionals, each issue of thisDavid Stitzhal newsletter will feature an UPSTREAM board member or NGO. Please meet, David Stitzhal, President of Full Circle Environmental, Inc. and UPSTREAM board secretary.

Q. How has your work impacted EPR, source reduction, or recycling initiatives? Reflecting on his 25 years in the industry, David describes his work as comprised of hands-on technical assistance to businesses on one hand, and policy development targeted at problem products such as pharmaceuticals, carpet, used oil, automobiles, batteries and electronics on the other. “It’s a nice blend of concrete projects and big picture policy development; the different modes inform each other well, and are really incomplete without the other,” says Stitzhal. David was part of the team that established the first state producer responsibility electronic recycling program in the United States, now known as Washington’s E-Cycle Program. He has served on a number of national and local multi-stakeholder dialogues for hard to handle materials. David also helped create the first Product Stewardship Council in the nation, the Northwest Product Stewardship Council, for which he served as coordinator for 15 years.

Q. What are some of the issues you will focus on this year either as a board member or in your organization? King County, WA recently passed a Rule and Regulation requiring drug manufacturers to fund and operate a drug take-back system for unwanted medications, joining Alameda County in being only the second jurisdiction to pass such a policy. David has been working on this issue for nearly a decade, and will continue his support of program implementation, pending the outcome of the pharmaceutical industry lawsuit challenging both County ordinances. David, and Full Circle, will also support international research efforts exploring the flow, recovery and recycling of batteries from EDVs (Electric Drive Vehicles). And still in the early planning stages is an environmental business exchange between Beijing and Seattle, focusing on technology and cultural exchange.

Q. Is there an article/book/presentation you would like to highlight and note in this issue? David highlighted an article titled, Product Stewardship: Can it Drive Green Design? in the Spring 2011 issue of Environmental Quality Management. In the piece David discusses the need for more than a single policy to drive toward improved product design and recycling. “There isn’t one silver bullet for green design,” David says. “A combination of tools to manage waste and resources are needed; no single, isolated approach can solve the problem. And when we look for, or examine, single program or single policy solutions, it’s easy to critique, discount and disregard each one as not solving the problem.” Instead, Stitzhal suggests, we should explore what works in each approach and use the tools in combination to achieve our broader goals.  

Q. What inspired you to become an UPSTREAM board member? David was initially drawn to UPSTREAM by “the thoughtful, creative, exacting work undertaken by Bill Sheehan and co-founder Helen Spiegelman.” Stitzhal continues, “I was excited to jump into the intellectual and policy crucible they were forming, and to learn from their theory and practice.” David sees UPSTREAM’s work as a rich blend of deep thinking with activist productivity. UPSTREAM works for the greater good through creative policy approaches that emphasize good governance. He enjoys being a member of an organization that creates high expectations for government, industry, consumers, and citizens. “UPSTREAM helps us see how we each contribute to – and are daily impacted by – the root causes of waste, and then it takes a next step by forging a path forward.”