Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee’s administration has introduced a bill that would require certain national manufacturers to pay for the disposal of their products – with plans to expand the regulations to more sectors.
The bill, if passed, would require manufacturers to pay for the collection and disposal of products sold in Rhode Island. It would give the state’s Department of Environmental Management the mandate to select which products to regulate, starting with mattresses, paints and medical needles and syringes, according to the Providence Journal.
These three products were chosen because of their high disposal costs or harmful impacts to the environment, the Journal said. They will be added to a list of products whose disposal is already regulated, according to Elizabeth Stone, a staff member at the state Department of Environmental Management. These include mercury thermostats, computers and televisions.
The legislation would apply both to Rhode Island companies and to others selling in the state.
Elizabeth Stone told the Journal that the bill is an effort to codify product stewardship principles.
“The current waste management system in Rhode Island is structured so that all the costs required to manage products at the end of their useful life, when they become wastes, are borne by the government and the taxpayers,” says Stone. “Through these types of common sense stewardship policies, we can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our landfill and create savings for municipalities and taxpayers.”
But the state’s Chamber of Commerce Coalition said that the legislation will increase the cost of doing business and increase prices for consumers.
“I am not aware of any state besides Maine that mandates such requirements,” coalition lobbyist David R. Calrin III said. “If the need is so pressing, why will Rhode Island be only the second state in the nation to mandate such requirements?”
The Providence Journal said that Massachusetts is considering a similar bill.
Other recent state-level waste legislation includes a Wisconsin electronic waste recycling law that shifts the financial burden from local governments to manufacturers.
Last June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) adopted a resolution for state and federal legislation that will shift the costs of managing product and packaging waste from taxpayers and local governments to producers and the consumers of their products.
Also in June, the New York State legislature passed a new electronics recycling law that attempts to limit the growth of hazardous waste in New York landfills by requiring manufacturers to accept used electronics from consumers.
Picture credit: Alan Stanton