What do unused drugs, batteries, cell phones, paint and motor oil have in common? On the one hand, if thrown in the wrong place, they cause serious harm to humans, animals, soil and water.
This is where the California Product Stewardship Council comes in, as it works to (ideally) push manufacturers to pay what are known as “end-of-life” or disposal costs for their products. Responsibility for a few items rests solely with the manufacturers, some are shared between manufacturers and state agencies, but most items are fully funded by consumers through “visible fees” at the time of purchase (such as mattresses, paint, carpets, tires, televisions or computer screens).
For more on this, we turned to CPSC Executive Director Doug Kobold, who tells us about his agency’s successes, challenges, and ongoing work.
What are some of the California Product Stewardship Council’s successful campaigns?
CPSC has two long-running campaigns and added two more recently. Both have long been linked to the safe disposal of unused/unwanted pharmaceuticals. The second is for a more environmentally friendly alternative to single-use 1-pound propane gas cylinders.
Don’t rush to flush the toilet: This campaign was created in May 2013 to begin educating the general public about the issues of flushing unused/unwanted medication down the toilet. We have continued to maintain and update the website which has lots of useful information and a mapping widget to find safe disposal bins. https://www.dontrushtoflush.org
Refuel Your Fun & $ave! : The Refuel campaign launched in March 2015 and was the cornerstone of our mission to provide California consumers with educational materials on why they should switch from single-use propane cylinders to reusable/refillable 1 pound cylinders. . Through over 30 CalRecycle HD Household Hazardous Waste grants, reusable/refillable bottles have been provided to consumers to help them make this change. https://www.refuelyourfun.org/
Statewide Textile Recovery Advisory Committee: CPSC formed the Textile Recovery Committee in July 2020 to bring together experts from various stakeholder groups to explore how to best recover used textiles from the waste streams and move these materials to higher and better uses than just shipping them offshore or sending them to Waste-To-Energy or landfill. https://www.calpsc.org/textilestewardship
Durable, Reusable, Repairable, Recyclable or DR Cubed: Modeled on the European Union’s work to create an initiative for more sustainable products, CPSC created DR3 in March 2021 to help educate consumers and manufacturers on the importance of making products more durable so they last longer, more reusable so they can be passed on in usable condition, more repairable when they break rather than need to be replaced, and more recyclable when the first three goals cannot be achieved. https://www.calpsc.org/campaigns
What is your legislative agenda for 2022?
The CPSC is sponsoring bills in two areas in 2022. First, the CPSC is co-sponsoring two identical bills in the California Legislature in 2022, AB 2440 (Irwin) and SB 1215 (Newton), which will establish an agenda for bulk and built-in household batteries. battery products to help ensure that batteries of all chemistries, especially lithium-ion batteries, are properly managed through a producer-funded, consumer-convenient collection and recycling system.
The CPSC’s other bill is SB 1256 (Wieckowski) which establishes a ban on the sale of single-use 1-pound propane cylinders in California effective January 1, 2028. The CPSC has spent the past seven years to educate the public on the benefits of switching to refillable/reusable bottles, while helping to create a robust refill infrastructure and a newer exchange program that can be on par with 20 BBQ bottle exchange programs existing books. This bill gives the industry five years to convert to consumables, which will be more than enough.
Which legislators are leading the way or have demonstrated leadership on environmental legislation?
The ones that stand out for me are:
Assemblyman Irwin, Assemblyman Quirk, Assemblyman Friedman, Assemblyman Ting, Assemblyman Bloom, Assemblyman L. Rivas;
Senator Newman, Senator Wieckowski, Senator Allen, Senator Eggman, Senator Kamlager.
And OK, just for fun Doug: Ice cream, cake or pie? Are you a dog, cat or snake? Which movie star would play you in a movie?
Ice cream, dog, Old West Cowboy
Thanks for your time today.