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Recycling revolution grows in the US
Athens, GA-based Product Policy Institute announced last week that it has hired a leading environmental advocate to expand PPI's reach in growing the rising movement for producer responsibility for recycling, currently sweeping the US.
Matt Prindiville joined Product Policy Institute as Associate Director in July to support citizens, public interest organisations and government officials in promoting the producer responsibility policy approach. Known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), these new policies give manufacturers physical and financial responsibility for recycling their products and packaging when consumers are done with them. The primary goals are to use market forces to capture, reuse and recycle materials that were formerly headed to landfills and waste incinerators, and create incentives for better design for the environment.
Matt Prindiville spent the last eight years at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, most recently in the role of the Clean Production Project Director & Legislative Coordinator. He has been at the forefront of product stewardship and safer chemicals policy in Maine and the United States, working to pass cutting-edge EPR recycling programmes for electronic waste, cell phones, mercury-containing thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs. He has also worked to phase out the use of lead, mercury and toxic brominated flame retardants in consumer products and helped advance the nation's first comprehensive chemicals assessment programme at the state level.
When PPI started organising local governments through Product Stewardship Councils in 2004, there were only a handful of state producer-responsibility recycling laws for discarded products. Today, seven states have local government Councils, including California, New York and Texas. There are more than 80 state producer responsibility laws in 33 states covering eight categories of products such as electronics, bottles and cans, paint and batteries - and EPR policies are now being proposed for packaging and carpet waste.
"With the recent surge in producer responsibility recycling legislation, we felt it was critical to expand our resources to cover more ground," says Bill Sheehan, Executive Director for PPI. "Matt has forged alliances with stakeholders from all sides to rack up an impressive string of legislative accomplishments. We're very excited about having him on board as the organization begins this important next chapter."
In 2010, Matt and Product Policy Institute worked together on Maine's first-in-the-nation framework EPR legislation, which sets up a process to systematically develop producer responsibility programmes for products and packaging. More recently, they worked together on founding and guiding a new national EPR coalition, CRADLE, which aims to create a grassroots political movement for producer responsibility nationwide.
"From decreasing our reliance on virgin natural resources, to reducing energy use and pollution, to growing recycling jobs right here in America, there are tremendous environmental and economic benefits from increasing our nation's abysmal 34% recycling rate," says Matt. "In order to move forward, we need manufacturers to team up with small businesses and solid waste officials to eliminate the concept of waste altogether."
11th August 2011