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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yurdin Resolution Would Make Manufacturers Responsible for Product Recycling

At tomorrow’s City Council meeting, Ward One Councilman Seth Yurdin will introduce a resolution calling on the General Assembly and the Department of Public Works to enact measures ensuring that those who produce products bear the costs of recycling and responsible disposal of those products. This type of policy, known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), has been instituted in 21 states including Rhode Island to require manufacturers to pay for the collection and recycling of e-waste like computers and televisions.

“The goal of this resolution is simple: if you make a product that causes environmental damage, or is expensive to dispose of, you should pay the cost of cleaning up that damage and disposing of the products properly,” said Yurdin. “When businesses are responsible for ensuring that their products are reused or recycled responsibly, and when health and environmental costs are included in the product price, there is a strong incentive to design products that are more durable, easier to repair, easier to recycle, and less hazardous to the environment.”

Councilman Yurdin also pointed to the success of EPR in other states. “Other places around the nation have established similar policies and have quickly had a positive impact on the environment and on government budgets,” said Yurdin. “By shifting the burden of disposing of products that have reached the end of their useful life from local government to producers, we simultaneously protect our environment and save taxpayer dollars.” 

The resolution calls on the State to enact comprehensive EPR legislation based on the recommendations of the Product Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank dedicated to promoting public health and safety by encouraging waste prevention, clean production, and reduced use of toxics in consumer items. It also tasks the City’s Department of Public Works with developing its own policies for an EPR program in Providence. Most EPR programs function by either requiring manufacturers to manage the collection and recycling of their products, or by assessing a fee to manufacturers to cover the cost of the government’s collection and recycling.

Shelia Dormody, Rhode Island Director of Clean Water Action, expressed her support of the resolution saying, “Providence has already started to see cost savings of $50,000 per month from increased recycling and additional savings from the e-waste collection covered by the manufacturers. By encouraging the state to move toward manufacturers covering the costs for recycling their products, our municipalities will see even more substantial cost savings while we protect our environment.”