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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. In 2020, CPSC co-sponsored legislation, AB 1509, addressing producer responsibility in safe battery management, which was reintroduced in 2021 as SB 289. Read more about CPSC-sponsored legislation. 

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 of 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.

 

Research

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

Batteries
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The Problem

According to CalRecycle’s 2018 Waste Characterization Study, nearly 630,000 tons of carpet was landfilled 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. In March 2020, CalRecycle referred CARE to enforcement.

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

Aquafil Carpet Recycling Facility: Tour and Interview Hosted by CPSC

 

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​​

 

Links

Carpet
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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. However, when diverted from landfill, US EPA explains that “virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.” 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. CalRecycle reports that an estimated 75 million fluorescent lamps and tubes are generated each year, which in total contains more than half a ton of mercury. 

 

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

Links

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

Lamps
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