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The Plastics BAN List

[The] growing reliance on plastic to fuel our “culture of convenience” is not without cost. Globally, an average of eight million tons of plastic escapes collection systems, winding up in the environment and eventually the ocean. Once there, sunlight and currents shred plastic debris into smaller particles called microplastics, which attract and concentrate toxic chemicals up the marine food chain and into our bodies… Learn more…
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EPR is the Answer

EPR is the Answer

The US stands as an outlier amidst global efforts to more sustainably manage the environmental impacts of packaging, but changing conditions are creating new support for EPR

By Matt Prindiville and Jamie Rhodes, UPSTREAM

The debates around extended producer responsibility for packaging – where consumer goods companies pay some or all of the costs for managing packaging waste – have been raging in the US for more than six years. During this time, UPSTREAM has organized, facilitated, and participated in multiple dialogues and forums with consumer brands, policy makers, public interest groups, local governments, packaging suppliers, and waste and recycling companies. While there has been significant opposition from most affected consumer goods companies, there has also been a slow but steady groundswell of support building from local and state governments, as well as an increasing openness from other business sectors, especially in the last year.

The principal drivers for this increasing attention are three-fold: 1) the rapid downturn and general uncertainty in recycled commodities markets; 2) the changing mix of the packaging waste stream away from traditional recyclable materials toward low-value “flexible” plastic packaging materials; and 3) a growing recognition of the increasing costs borne by local government to manage plastics not only in the waste stream, but also in the environment, commonly known as “plastic pollution”…


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Story of Stuff Project: This Land is Our Land – 10/14/15

The Story of Stuff Project released a new video – This Land is Our Land – a four minute, documentary-style movie that tells the story of Nestlé’s removal of water from the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California for its Arrowhead bottled water brand.

CustomMade: Plastic Buildup in our Oceans – May 2015

Brought to you by CustomMade – Spiraling Out of Control: Plastic Buildup in Our Oceans.  Download File »

The Relative Economic Efficiency of Shared Responsibility versus the Principled Application of Extended Producer Responsibility for Printed Paper and Packaging – February 2015

A policy brief by Usman A. Valiante, Senior Policy Analyst at Corporate Policy Group, LLC that discusses the relative economic efficiency of a shared responsibility policy approach for the end-­of-life management of printed paper and packaging versus the principled application of EPR towards the same ends.   Download File »

The American Beverage Industry and the Development of Curbside Recycling Programs, 1950–2000 – Autumn 2012

In this article, Bartow J. Elmore, a Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural
Resource Economics and Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley, examines curbside recycling not as the quintessential model of eco-stewardship, but as a polluter-sponsored initiative that allowed corporations to expand their productive capacity without fixing fundamental flaws in their packaging technology.

He further explores the nexus of business, envirotech, and political history, and how American corporations enrolled government agencies to construct resource reclamation systems in the United States that became models for waste management programs in municipalities around the world.   Download File »

The Politics of Extended Producer Responsibility – 08/09/14

Matt presented to the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association on “The Politics of Extended Producer Responsibility: Moving Forward in Hard Times.” The presentation focused on 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.    Download File »

Guide to Composting at Home – March 2014

Andrea Davis’ blog post in explains how compost is an effective substitute for commercial fertilizers, and in some cases, it can also serve as a natural pesticide and barrier for some plant-based diseases. Find out how to start composting at home.  Download File »

CPSC: Producer Responsibility for Mattresses – 12/16/13

California Product Stewardship Council white paperProducer Responsibility for Mattresses. The paper reviews the history and existing infrastructure for mattress end-of-life management in California, the status of mattress producer responsibility in the United States, and the likely outcomes of mattress producer responsibility with the adoption of SB 254 in California and similar legislation adopted in other states. Download File »

EPR Definitions and Principles

UPSTREAM worked with Product Stewardship Institute, California Product Stewardship Council, and more than 100 stakeholders on this document: Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility: Definitions and Principles (March 2012).  Download File »

CRADLE2 Packaging Platform – June 2013

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy approach puts accountability for packaging waste onto the companies that design and use packaging.  Producers are required to finance the collection of their packaging materials, and ensure that they are reused or recycled.  When implemented properly, producer responsibility can substantially increase recycling rates, incentivize producers to reduce the amount of packaging they use, reduce energy use, and reclaim billions of dollars of embedded value being buried in landfills or burned in waste incinerators.  It is a cornerstone policy among a suite of policy tools to drive the more sustainable use of resources and reduction of toxic materials in commerce.

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Unintended Consequences: Municipal Solid Waste Management and the Throwaway Society – March 2005

The Municipal Solid Waste Management (MWSM) system was established a century ago to protect public health. It has been modified during the past 40 years in pursuit of public policy objectives of pollution control, resource conservation and, most recently, sustainable development. This 2005 report by Bill Sheehan and Helen Spiegelman examines the successes and failures of “integrated waste management” in reaching those public policy objectives. Download File »

Products, Packaging and US Greenhouse Gas Emissions – 2009

by Joshuah Stolaroff, UPSTREAM (formerly Product Policy Institute), 2009.

This seminal white paper extends the consumption-based greenhouse gas analysis by US EPA (2009) to include “outsourced carbon” impacts from producing products and packaging (or goods and servises) abroad that are consumed in the U.S.  Conclusions:  (1) Production and use of products and packaging account for the largest share, 44%, of global U.S. GHG emission impacts.  (2) To reduce GHG emissions we must reduce emissions from production and consumption of manufactured goods and food.   Download File »