Plastics Ban List Launches

Plastics Ban List Launches

Los Angeles, CA (November 3, 2016)—Today, four non-profit conservation organizations—The 5 Gyres Institute, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, and UPSTREAM—launched the Plastics BAN (Better Alternatives Now) List, which identifies the most harmful plastic products sold in California and readily-available alternatives...

The Limits of Our Experience

The Limits of Our Experience

Roman Mars, on his popular podcast “99% Invisible,” recently discussed Taiwan as an example of what can happen when the general public is informed about recycling and composting programs. In the case of Taiwan, a fundamental shift in their program was possible. Instead of pest-ridden dumpsters and litter strewn streets, there is now a five day a week ritual where people meet their garbage truck in the street and source separate all of their materials in a pay-as-you throw system...

A Case for National Extended Producer Responsibility

A Case for National Extended Producer Responsibility

After spending too many hours in legislative hearings for EPR laws here in the Northeast, there remains an underlying question as to how these programs can scale to the national level while relying on so many different state laws. PaintCare’s approach to developing and passing legislation in a state-by-state approach, carefully crafted to match their capacity to take on new programs has proven to be one method. It requires the full embrace by an industry to take responsibility for their product and a commitment to engage in the political process year over year...

Flexible Packaging and other Conundrums – “What are we gonna do with all this stuff?”

Flexible Packaging and other Conundrums – “What are we gonna do with all this stuff?”

Being in the business that we’re in, you can imagine that UPSTREAM’s supporters comprise a lot of die-hard recyclers. You know who I’m talking about, and probably many of our regular readers fit the type. I’m talking about the people that rinse out the produce bag for the hundred and fiftieth time to take back to the store; or that drink their wine out of repurposed glass salsa jars; or that have yogurt tubs dating back to the 1990s with multiple layers of masking tape detailing the leftovers that once occupied the container in the fridge. You know who you are...

The Solution to Plastic Pollution?

The Solution to Plastic Pollution?

Plastic pollution is an issue that more Americans are paying attention to, largely due to the efforts of organizations working on the issue, and the excellent documentary film making and media coverage on the subject. It’s a fundamental Lorax-type tale. We are wrecking the oceans – and now our food, due to microplastics attracting and bio-concentrating toxic chemicals in the marine food chain – because of our addiction to cheap, plastic products and packaging, and a comprehensive global failure to steward these materials properly...

The Evolution of EPR for Packaging in the United States

The Evolution of EPR for Packaging in the United States

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...

Reducing our Way out of Recycling: Flexible Packaging is here, but is this a Good Thing?

Reducing our Way out of Recycling: Flexible Packaging is here, but is this a Good Thing?

A couple weeks ago, I attended the Sustainability in Packaging Conference – an industry trade conference for packaging suppliers and sustainability personnel for large and small companies. Over the course of three days, I had numerous opportunities to dialogue with people throughout the packaging and waste management supply chains – from packaging designers to sustainability staff for brands, to packaging suppliers trying to win their business, to local government and waste management representatives...

What makes a Sustainable Package?

What makes a Sustainable Package?

Ask anyone to define what makes a sustainable package, and you are likely to receive a lot of different answers.  There are so many people working on packaging and environmental issues, from sustainability personnel for major corporations, government staff, product designers, engineers, waste management specialists, oceans researchers and public interest advocates. Each one has their own set of criteria, upon which the “sustainability” of a given packaging material or package is assessed...