The following legislation would amend Article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law by adding a new Title 29 called product stewardship.
Product stewardship is a management strategy of solid waste that is predicated on the shifting of the costs and responsibility for disposing of products to the manufacturer. The consumer of the product and the systems that the consumer currently pay for are ignored in systems of product stewardship.
The idea is grounded in the notion that if a manufacturer is required to take back the goods it makes, then the products will become more environmentally sound. There is not significant evidence that this occurs due to the lifecycle of products, the global market place, and the challenging business climate for consumer goods. The entire notion runs completely a foul when trying to address abandoned products.
Recently, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection1 reviewed its laws and a recently passed product stewardship law. This report2 concluded that “no new products or product categories” should be considered under product stewardship due to costs and administrative concerns.
Contrary to what some may believe, the costs associated with administering similar laws can exceed the current costs of managing waste. In Ontario and British Columbia, product stewardship laws related to batteries have contrasting results. Ontario has repealed some provisions of its law due to practical implications.
The Business Council believes that the true impact of implementing extended producer responsibility needs to be thoroughly considered in light of existing infrastructure, voluntary recovery and recycling programs, and the overall environmental impact of mandating take-back of products.
1 It should be noted that Maine is the only state in the U.S. with a product Stewardship framework law.