- Legislators in Rhode Island have announced a bill (SB 2605) that would require brand owners to increase recycling rates for printed paper and packaging (PPP). The bill would intend to raise the PPP recycling rate from 39% to 75% in two years after it's implemented.
- If passed, the bill would make Rhode Island the first state in the country to apply extended producer responsibility (EPR) for PPP, as reported in Resource Recycling.
- Some officials are concerned that the 75% goal will not be attainable in two years, however Jamie Rhodes, the program director of EPR advocacy group UPSTREAM, noted that a similar PPP program recently enacted in British Columbia has led to comparable recovery rates.
The motive for the bill has been long-coming as Rhode Island's recycling rates have hit a plateau amid increased landfill tipping fees. Therefore, UPSTREAM Executive Director Matt Prindiville sees giving brand owners responsibility for recycling as "an issue of fairness."
"Right now, you have consumer goods companies that create a product, package it in any way they like, and then leave the liability of what to do with that package to local governments around the US," he said, as reported in Resource Recycling.
Rhodes is optimistic that the state is making the right decision by pushing the bill. "I think we're on the right path," she said to Resource Recycling. "I know the legwork is there and I'm optimistic, but I'm not going to promise we'll be able to pass this bill this year."
However, there is pushback, especially from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) which believes the program is too massive and unmanageable.
Outside of PPP, the state has struggled in some other recycling areas such as e-waste collections. However, Rhode Island is anticipating an increase in mattress recycling as it is expected to launch a Bye Bye Mattress program through the Mattress Recycling Council later this year. Both of these products — electronics and mattresses — have EPR programs, according to the Product Stewardship Institute.