PRODUCTS

 

BATTERIES

 

The Problem

Studies show that people store used, dead, or corroded batteries because they inherently know they have value and should not be thrown in the trash. Some states, including California, have banned batteries from trash disposal. It’s time to provide consumers with a convenient way to recycle those batteries and put that valuable resource back into the economic mainstream, creating jobs in the process. Like most used products, batteries should be seen as a commodity and a business opportunity, not waste!

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s 2002 report Household Universal Waste Generation in California, more than 500 million batteries were sold in California in 2001. Only 0.55% of these were recycled through city and county household hazardous waste programs and at a significant cost to ratepayers and taxpayers; costs were estimated to exceed $31 million per year!

Supporting Battery Stewardship

In this video, Assembly Member Das Williams explains the problems associated with battery disposal and discusses his 2014 legislation, AB 2284, which would have established a statewide stewardship program for household batteries.

Taking Action

In 2018, Assemblymember Bloom sent three letters regarding Lithium Ion batteries in consumer products. One letter to CalRecycle, one to CalFire, and one to Department to Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), each addressing the health and safety hazards associated with mishandling of lithium ion batteries.

In 2013, 27 environmental organizations asked battery and lamp manufacturers to form a partnership to establish much needed take-back programs for their products:

 

In 2011, CPSC was the primary grant partner on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments’ (SGVCG) pilot project to demonstrate how battery manufacturers can design a statewide stewardship program that provides convenient battery collection locations. The project found that 59 percent of Californians surveyed were aware of the disposal ban on batteries – but 56 percent still threw them in the trash.

Corporate Stewardship

Power by Go Green

Power by Go Green (formerly PerfPower Corporation) is a technology company offering sustainable products, including batteries, flashlights, and extension cords/surge protectors. Their GoGreen Alkaline Batteries are made of recycled materials and can be recycled free-of-charge using the company’s iRecycled program. They are also free of toxic lead, cadmium, or mercury.

Call2Recycle Battery Stewardship Program

Call2Recycle is North America’s first and largest battery stewardship program that collects and recycles rechargeables free-of-charge in the U.S. and Canada. Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted more than 100 million pounds of rechargeable batteries and cell phones from landfills. Click Here to Update your Safety Training.

 

Articles & Press

 

Studies

 

Links

Mythbusters Jr. show illustrates the danger of putting batteries into our wastestream:

 

 

CARPET

The Problem

According to California’s 2014 Waste Characterization Study, over 570,000 tons of carpet was discarded in California. It is bulky and difficult to manage, and has the fourth largest greenhouse gas footprint of any product waste in California. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, every year 4 billion pounds of carpet are discarded in the U.S. and only about 1 percent is recycled.

 

Carpet Stewardship – California is the First in the World

In 2010, CPSC worked with carpet manufacturers, recyclers, the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), and Assembly Speaker John Perez to pass the first product stewardship legislation to support the recycling of waste carpet, AB 2398. This legislation was not entirely successful, so warranted a new bill, AB 1158 sponsored by our national affiliate the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), to fix some issues. AB 1158 was signed by Governor Brown on October 14th, 2017. in 2019, NSAC sponsored a third bill amending the California carpet stewardship program, AB 729 (Chu). This legislation that paves the way for the state to reclaim over $15 million in carpet recycling fees used to support California carpet collection and recycling businesses, protecting its recycling infrastructure from the carpet recycling program administrator, Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), which is headquartered in Georgia. The bill added the requirement that differential assessments take into account the financial burden that a particular carpet material has on the stewardship program, and the amount of post-consumer recycled content contained in a particular carpet. This national precedent of "eco-modulated fees" will show the consumers which products are more recyclable and less toxic with a lower fee compared to the carpet types with a higher burden on the stewardship program achieving its legislated goals.

 

California Carpet Stewardship Advisory Committee (AC)

 

Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)

CARE is a joint industry-government effort to increase the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet. CARE administers the California Carpet Stewardship Program, which is charged with meeting the requirements for carpet recycling set by AB 2398 and managed by CalRecycle. CARE’s 2017-2021 California Carpet Stewardship Program was rejected by CalRecycle many times for not meeting statutory requirements.  On January 13, 2020, after approving CARE's Plan on the condition they achieve everything they included in the Approved Chapter 0 to the Plan. Pursuant to CalRecycle’s November 19, 2019, Request for Approval,  CARE submitted timelines agreed upon by CalRecycle staff, that it shall meet to fulfill the remaining requirements of Chapter 0 and new statutory requirements established by the enactment of Assembly Bill 729.

However, CARE has not been making significant progress to increase recycling and CalRecycle has submitted an accusation and a possible fine of over $3 million for failure to meet the legislated standard of continuous and meaningful improvement. On December 19, 2017, CalRecycle concluded that CARE’s Annual Report for 2016 failed to demonstrate compliance with the carpet law, even after the Department found CARE non-compliant in 2014, 2015, and had requested CARE to implement changes. In February, 2018, CalRecycle agreed to lower civil penalties against CARE from  $3.2 million to $1 million, but found CARE out of compliance again for the 2016 Annual Report for an additional $1.8 million in penalties. In June 2018, CalRecycle decided to delay enforcement of non-compliance for CARE until the decision is made regarding their final submission of the Carpet Stewardship Plan 2018-2022 in order to allow public consideration of the revised Plan.

Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Safer Consumer Products

The Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program uses a four-step process to reduce toxic chemicals in the products that consumers buy and use. DTSC identifies specific products that contain potentially harmful chemicals and reviews safer alternatives. Carpets and rugs treated with PFASs for stain- or soil-resistance are potential long-term sources of widespread human and ecological exposures to this class of chemicals. In February 2018, DTSC released a Product-Chemical Profile for carpets and rugs with PFASs. In May 2020, DTSC proposed to adopt regulations listing Carpets and Rugs Containing PFAS as a Priority Product.

 

Recycled Carpet Products and Market Development

There are many products on the market that use recycled carpet materials in their production. Here are some examples of companies leading the market in creating products that improve the market for carpet recycling.

 

Aquafil manufactures nylon from post-consumer recycled materials in their Eco-nyl product, used in many eco-fashion oriented products

 

DSM-Niaga creates fully recyclable carpet using their new glue technology

 

Interface Carpet manufacturers incorporate sustainability into their business and product design for carpet

 

Fiberon Composite decking uses post-consumer wood and plastic in their production process

 

Also:

 

Carpet Procurement Standards- San Francisco

San Francisco Department of the Environment adopted new sustainable carpet purchasing requirements into regulation that are among the strictest in the nation.  It limits City purchases to certain, recycled, commercial, hard-backed carpet tiles because they allow for easy replacement and minimize waste.

 

Highlights of the regulation include a ban on these toxic chemicals in carpet tiles and broadloom (rolled) carpet:

  • Antimicrobial chemicals because they can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics and disrupt our hormones.  It is not necessary for city department carpet to have antimicrobial chemicals.

  • Flame retardant chemicals because they do little, if anything, to slow or prevent fire. They migrate out of products and escape into our air, dust and our bodies. And they’re associated with cancerlower intelligence quotient (IQ), and reproductive harm.

  • Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) because they are associated with cancer, high cholesterol and obesity.   So San Francisco’s regulation requires carpets to have cationic nylon yarn.  It is soil stain resistant and does not require toxic fluorinated chemicals.

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) because it usually has phthalates (some of which disrupt our hormones and probably causes cancer), and sometimes it has lead (which can cause reproductive problems and nerve disorders), and when PVC is made or disposed, it releases cancer-causing dioxins.

 

To learn more, watch this webinar on the San Francisco carpet procurement standards.

 

Carpet Procurement Standards- Woodland Unified School District

In 2017-2018, parents became alarmed when children were sickened after new carpet was installed in four classrooms at Beamer Park elementary. The trustees voted not to remove the carpet at Beamer Elementary on February 8, 2018, but the Woodland Coalition for Green Schools kept researching and organizing around the issue. 

On 12/19/19, the Woodland Joint Unified School Trustees unanimously adopted a new sustainable floor policy that bans PFAS, lead, 4-PC, PBDEs, phthalates, and other hazardous chemicals commonly found in school carpets. 

Articles & Press

 

Studies

 

Links

 

 

FLUORESCENT LAMPS

The Problem

Fluorescent lamps consume less electricity than conventional bulbs; however, mercury is the key element that makes them so efficient. Mercury is a toxin which can harm the nervous system, kidneys and liver. Today, only two percent of CFLs are recycled in the U.S., and millions of lamps are discarded. Most are crushed en route to landfills and incinerators, releasing mercury vapors that are inhaled by workers. Mercury residue in landfills forms methyl mercury gas, which is especially toxic.

 

Supporting Fluorescent Lamp Stewardship

In a grant project with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), CPSC learned that nearly 50% of consumers and retailers were unaware of California’s mercury lamp disposal ban. Most consumers were unaware that the fluorescent lamps were hazardous, unaware of how to dispose of them properly, and they threw them in the trash out of convenience.

Articles & Press

 

Studies

 

Links

Not sure where to recycle your CFLs? Click here to find a location near you.

 

 

 

GAS CYLINDERS

 

The Problem

One pound disposable propane gas cylinders (cylinders) power equipment used for camping, cooking, landscaping, heating, and a variety of other applications. There are 30 million cylinders sold in the U.S. each year and an estimate over four million in California alone. Once used, consumers must dispose of these cylinders and often improperly and at significant cost to local governments and parks. When consumers purchase a cylinder, 80 percent of the cost is actually for the cylinder (which is the packaging) and 20 percent is for the gas.

 

Cylinders are difficult to recycle and once discarded cannot be presumed to be empty. Even a small amount of propane gas under pressure is dangerous and presents a risk to sanitation workers.  Typically “empty cylinders” are not allowed in mixed recycling bins and are collected separately at parks, household hazardous waste facilities, and transfer stations and shipped for processing to a facility that handles cylinder evacuation. Very rarely, as in the case of Santa Cruz County, a cylinder that is completely empty can be placed in the curbside mixed recycling cart so it is important to check with your local waste hauler for direction. It is expensive to remove remaining gas and ensure metals are recycled and costs about $1.25 to recycle each cylinder when they cost around $4.50 to buy one.

 

Refilling disposable one pound cylinders is illegal. On November 28, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a safety alert, “Prohibited Refilling of DOT 39 Specification Cylinders” regarding refilling disposable cylinders. The alert strongly recommends that the general public not refill DOT 39 cylinders, and outlines fines. Additional information on California and Federal laws and regulations pertaining to the refill of disposable cylinders can be found here.

Disposable Cylinder Facts

  • In 2014, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park spent $2,656 and shipped 2,125 cylinders for proper handling and recycling.

  • According to the City of Sunnyvale between 2010 – 2013 more than 16,000 cylinders were processed through the SMaRT Station (where the trash for Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto is processed before being landfilled), at a cost of over $144,000 to the cities for their proper disposal. SMaRT Station Gas Cylinder Fact Sheet.

 

Supporting Cylinder Stewardship

Click here for the ReFuel Your Fun website. Follow the ReFuel Your Fun Facebook page.

There is one manufacturer that redesigned the valves and now offer refillable one pound cylinders: Flame King. In addition, Kamps Propane stores are now selling and exchanging the Little Kamper refillable gas cylinders and Pick Up Propane locations will be exchanging the refillables beginning Spring 2015. These refillable cylinders save customers an average of $320 over their 12-year life span assuming a cylinder is reused 10 times a year either through refilling or an exchange program.

 

Please ask retailers in your community to sell or provide refill or exchange services. Click here for a sample letter.

Articles & Press

Shown below:  

Tailgater with the Little Kamper, Kamps Propane;

A little camper seen with the Little Kamper, Kamps Propane Website; and

Refillable one pound cylinders powering landscaping equipment.

 

 

 

GREEN CHEMISTRY

 

The Problem

Media headlines regularly reveal consumer products with suspected toxic substances. Tens of thousands of chemicals are in use today, but we know very little about how they affect people or the environment. Consumers and businesses in the supply chain lack basic information about ingredients and their effects, information which could lower the costs and liability arising from goods that contain toxic substances. This information gap prevents the free market from working properly to stimulate the innovation of safer, healthier substitutes. Issues include:

  • Uncertainty about the safety of chemicals in products which are manufactured around the world

  • Little or no information about chemical ingredients and potential hazards

  • Poorly conceived actions, like bans that do not consider alternatives and often create new problems when substitutions are made

  • Billions of dollars in state taxpayer costs for long-term stewardship of a burgeoning hazardous waste stream

  • More chemicals being used as our population grows and our economy expands, resulting in more products being consumed and more waste generated.

 

The class of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) contains more than 3,000 man-made chemicals with at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom. Exposure begins early in a person’s life, since mothers transfer PFASs to their babies via the placenta and breastfeeding and children may experience higher exposure levels. DTSC’s literature review of PFASs found evidence for (1) hazard characteristics (high persistence, bioaccumulation, potential toxicity) and (2) potential for widespread exposures for humans and other living organisms. PFAs are proteinophilic (protein-binding), accumulating particularly in blood, liver, stomach, kidney, lung, gall bladder, brain, muscle, and yolk sac tissues. A systematic review of 64 epidemiological studies that assessed children’s exposure to PFASs and associations with specific health outcomes found positive correlations between PFAS exposure and suppressed immune system response, dyslipidemia, impaired kidney function, and delayed first occurrence of menstruation.(DTSC, 2019).

 

Figure (above): An exposure pathway for PFAS as published by DTSC, 2019

Supporting Green Chemistry

California was the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive “Green Chemistry” Initiative to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products and make it easy for consumers and businesses to identify the chemical contents of the products they buy.

Green Chemistry is a systematic scientific and engineering approach that seeks to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and the generation of toxic wastes by changing the way chemicals are designed, manufactured, and utilized. Rather than managing chemicals one by one through individual bans, the Green Chemistry Initiative establishes a “framework” approach by delegating the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) the ability to target the most dangerous and harmful chemicals for safer chemical substitutions and product take-back. CPSC supports this framework approach, as well as the EPR framework approach as adopted by CalRecycle in 2008, for product waste management. To date, authority to initiate the EPR framework approach has not yet been granted by the legislature.

The six recommendations developed through the California Green Chemistry Initiative in the 2008 Green Chemistry Initiative Final Report are:

1.  Expand Pollution Prevention and product stewardship programs to more business sectors to refocus additional resources on prevention rather than clean up.

2.  Develop Green Chemistry Workforce Education and Training, Research and Development and Technology Transfer through new and existing educational programs and partnerships.

3.  Create an Online Product Ingredient Network to disclose chemical ingredients for products sold in California, while protecting trade secrets.

4.  Create an Online Toxics Clearinghouse, an online database of chemical toxicity and hazards populated with the guidance of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to help prioritize chemicals of concern and data needs.

5.  Accelerate the Quest for Safer Products, creating a systematic, science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and alternatives to ensure product safety and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical-by-chemical bans.

6.  Move Toward a Cradle-to-Cradle Economy to leverage market forces to produce products that are “benign-by-design” in part by establishing a California Green Products Registry to develop green metrics and tools (e.g., environmental footprint calculators, sustainability indices) for a range of consumer products and encourage their use by businesses.

Video created by the CA DTSC and the U.S. EPA on the topic of green chemistry.

 

Policy & Legislation

California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, through the enactment of AB 1879 and SB 509 takes a preventive approach to keeping dangerous chemicals out of everyday products.

 

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) enacted the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program identifies specific products that contain potentially harmful chemicals and reviews safer alternatives. The SCP uses a four-step process to reduce toxic chemicals in the products that consumers buy and use. As of May 2020, DTSC has started the regulatory process to list several priority products under the SCP, including Carpet, Foodware, and Textiles treated with PFAS. Look up each product type on this page to see CPSC's position for listing as priority products under the SCP.

Articles & Press

 

Resources & Links

MATTRESSES

The Problem

Mattresses are bulky and difficult to transport, and public access to inexpensive recycling opportunities is very limited, so illegal dumping of mattresses is a widespread problem. According to CalRecycle’s Mattress & Box Spring Case Study, an estimated 4.2 million mattresses and box springs are discarded annually in California, but less than 5 percent were being recycled at the time of the report.

 

Because of these issues, the City of Napa commissioned CPSC to do a white paper on mattress end-of-life management:

 

Policy and Legislation for Mattresses in California

SB 254 (Hancock) was enacted in 2013 and aims to reduce illegal dumping, increase recycling, and substantially reduce public agency costs for the end-of-use management of used mattresses. The legislation requires industry to create a statewide recycling program to increase the recovery and recycling of mattresses at their end-of-use. The Program is administered by the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) and funded through a $10.50 recycling fee collected from consumers at point-of-sale when a mattress or box spring is purchased. MRC runs the Bye Bye Mattress California program to meet program requirements and provide fee payers access to mattress recycling services.

 

SB 1274 (Hancock) was passed in 2014 to provide additional clarity regarding definitions, report submittals, and record keeping requirements. in 2019, AB 187 (Garcia) passed to add further improvements to the mattress stewardship program. Keeping jobs in California and the recycling industry is exactly why we need AB 187 passed this year. AB 187 protects jobs by ensuring the program is sustainably funded and there is no disruption in subsidy payments to the waste haulers and others if the stewardship organization ceases to operate. AB 187 further protects California jobs by prioritizing in-state processing. Four key areas this bill improves the original legislation:

  1. Expanding the scope of the program to include futons and mattresses delivered by common carrier.

  2. Setting program goals to establish metrics for consumer access.

  3. Requiring the organization, to develop strategies for collecting used mattresses for recycling in areas and communities that face unique challenges associated with proper waste management such as poverty, language barriers, and illegal mattress dumping.

  4. Establishing a “bridge plan” so if the stewardship organization is revoked for any reason, there is a process to bring the $40M+ of fee money back to CA to support our businesses and recycling infrastructure.

California Illegal Dumping Compensation Program for Mattresses and Box Springs

The MRC’s California Illegal Dumping Payment Program (IDPP) fund helps off-set costs associated with efforts to clean-up illegally dumped mattresses and box springs in California by providing qualifying urban and and rural local governments, participating permitted solid waste facilities and authorized solid waste operations payments for illegally dumped mattress and box springs collected from the public right-of-way. Visit the IDPP registration page or contact Mark Patti with MRC for more information.

 

MRC Audit

Christina Garcia (D- District 58) filed a request with the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to assess the oversight of the MRC by CalRecycle to ensure they are in compliance with the California Mattress Recycling Law. The Audit Committee approved the request (13 Ayes) and indicated the audit could be completed in as little as five months. The Audit report, published August 30 2018, suggested CalRecycle does not have enough oversight authority necessary to ensure that the mattress recycling program fulfills its purpose.

Articles & Press

 

Resources

 

Links