The Business Council opposes Part SS of S.7508 / A.9508, which would require producers of carpets and mattresses to participate in product stewardship programs. This approach places additional responsibilities on the producer of an item to cover the life cycle of a product from creation to disposition. These programs have not been shown to increase rates of recycling and will ultimately just make it more costly to do business in New York State.
Under this proposal, companies who produce or distribute carpets or mattresses must create, finance and participate in a stewardship organization designed to foster the disposal of unwanted or unused carpets and mattresses by January 1, 2022. This will extend to retailers the following year at which time no mattress or carpet may be sold in the state unless the producer of such product is actively participating in a stewardship program. Further, this proposal would authorize the Department of Environmental Conservation to impose penalties for non-compliance of anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 per violation.
Such a program should not be mandated without a clear problem that can be remedied through a definable process with measurable results. At best, the virtue of state-mandated stewardship programs remains unknown and whether the impact on producers and retailers (and by extension, consumers) will be worth the cost. Among the myriad questions:
- Is this a solution in search of a problem, meaning are landfills currently overrun with carpets and mattresses?
- Where will the mandated collection points be?
- Does shifting the financial responsibility from local governments to producers result in more “eco-friendly” products?
- Will the penalties, which will eventually be imposed on retailers, unduly impact ‘brick and mortar’ locations andthus shift the market toward online retail?
- Will such programs reduce economic development and lead to job losses?
The Business Council would advocate for a more thoughtful approach: rather than changing behavior through punitive laws and regulations, why not incentivize the adoption of business or industry specific programs that are designed to achieve the same end? Around the country, producers of these products have, in fact, initiated their own programs without being compelled. In the final analysis, business and government do not always have to be at odds with one another, but can rather forge partnerships to confront and solve issues in a ways that are results-oriented, efficient and designed to foster outcomes that benefit businesses and communities alike, while simultaneously achieving overall public policy goals. Since this proposal does not attempt to do this, the Business Council must oppose.