Groups seek to make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling products
CRADLE² News Release
TODAY, Forty-two years after the recycling movement began on the first Earth Day, a new coalition has been launched to “bring recycling into the 21st century” by working for policies that make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling their products and packaging.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine serves on the steering committee for the CRADLE² Coalition, which includes more than 30 organizations from around the country concerned about the squandering of natural resources, the impacts on climate change, the potential for pollution, and the loss of jobs from wasting valuable, recyclable materials in landfills and incinerators.
“We’ve come together because we’re concerned about the impact on people and our environment from toxic and problematic items in the waste stream,” said Matt Prindiville, Associate Director of the Product Policy Institute and a co-founder of the new coalition. “We know that better products can be designed with people and the planet in mind. Better systems for recovering, reusing, and recycling products will protect our health and environment, revitalize our economy and create jobs in communities nationwide.”
CRADLE² was founded to transform the U.S. economy from one where consumer products and packaging are designed to be thrown away, to an economy where manufacturers design their products and packaging to use less and safer material, be reusable, and be conveniently recycled at the end of its useful life. This cycle would turn what was formerly “waste” into the raw materials for industry and the next generation of products.
The name of the coalition, CRADLE², comes from the groups’s vision of an economy where products and packaging are managed from “cradle to cradle” instead of “cradle to grave.”
Ideally, manufacturers would provide and finance collection programs, ensuring that every consumer product and its packaging gets reused or recycled, providing American jobs as well as using resources responsibly.
This policy concept, known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), or product stewardship, has become dominant in the production and solid waste in the European Union, Canada, and Japan, with laws around the world now directing manufacturers to set up and finance collection and recycling programs for consumer products and packaging. In the United States, there are more than 80 producer responsibility laws in 33 states, covering 10 different product categories, from used paint to unwanted electronics to leftover carpet and more.
CRADLE² believes in the power of product stewardship to grow American jobs. The group points to a new report that asserts that getting US recycling rates up – to levels achieved in much of Europe and many American cities – can lead to millions of new US jobs. According to the Tellus Institute, boosting recycling from our current national rate of 34% to 75% of municipal solid waste, will result in 1.5 million new jobs and result in greenhouse gas and pollution reduction benefits.
“When we throw away newspaper or a soda can, we are actually throwing away US jobs,” said Abby King, Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “To increase recycling rates that will, in turn, create millions of new jobs, we need to build infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and provide residents with incentives and convenient recycling. Producer responsibility is the critical missing element that will close the loop from production to consumption back to production.”
Over the next several years, CRADLE² will work towards incentives for safer, better products and less waste. The groups believe that product stewardship is the most effective and efficient way to conserve energy and natural resources; providing a high quality of living while significantly reducing our impact on the planet.
“Creating products that we use and enjoy does not need to result in wasting natural resources and spewing unnecessary pollution into our environment. Through product stewardship we can allow the next generation to thrive, and provide them with a safe, healthy planet,” said King. “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to take care of the planet they’ll inherit by using and reusing resources efficiently, in ways that are healthy and sustainable.”
CRADLE² Steering Committee:
Clean Water Action Rhode Island â¢ Clean Water Action Massachusetts â¢ Natural Resources Council of Maine â¢ New York Public Interest Research Group â¢ Product Policy Institute â¢ Sierra Club California Texas Campaign for the Environment â¢ Vermont Public Interest Research Group â¢ Zero Waste WA