- The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries' (ISRI) New England Chapter president, Gregory Mitko, recently testified against a proposed product stewardship bill in Connecticut's General Assembly. HB 7067 would give the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) the authority to make "any object or substance" a covered product within a state stewardship program.
- In his submitted testimony, Mitko said the bill could "ultimately cause undue harm to Connecticut’s recycling industry and the environment" because of its open-ended nature. The bill would put manufacturers in charge of developing programs for their products, including selecting recyclers without the requirement of an open bidding process.
- ISRI believes that enacting such a system for any products without consulting the recycling industry would be "illogical" because it could disrupt markets and might not take into account best practices for recycling.
This testimony follows ISRI's national position on product stewardship or extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. Aside from used electronics and mercury light switches, the organization opposes efforts to put fees or mandates on any other products because that can limit the industry's competitive, market-based system. As written, the Connecticut law could theoretically be expanded to include various types of packaging or other materials that the recycling industry has developed ways to profitably process.
The state currently has four EPR laws for paint, mattresses, mercury thermostats and electronics. A recent report from the Product Stewardship Institute, commissioned by DEEP, found that these laws have diverted 26 million pounds of waste and saved more than $2.6 million per year. While the report did recommend expanding the electronics recycling requirement beyond households, collecting better data and conducting more outreach it did not mention anything about an expanded stewardship law.
While ISRI opposes this plan, it's not necessarily satisfied with the status quo. The organization has long promoted a policy to design products for easier recycling — which now includes a right to reuse policy. Similar circular economy models have been discussed in Canada and the European Union, though often in the context of regulation. This seems to be what Connecticut is after as well. Both ISRI, and likely the manufacturers, would prefer to let the market take its course.