In an announcement made this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) formally adopted a resolution shifting the financial burden of product and packaging waste away from taxpayers and local governments to producers and consumers of their products.
The resolution was passed at the 78th Annual Conference of Mayors in Oklahoma City, making the USCM the third national association of elected officials to adopt such resolutions addressing the growing problem of managing consumer product waste.
The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties both adopted producer responsibility resolutions in 2009.
The USCM is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, promoting effective national urban and suburban policy. The signing of the resolution supports state and federal producer responsibility legislation and urges Congress to support the ability of state governments to establish producer responsibility legislation.
It also encourages all manufacturers to share in the responsibility of eliminating waste by minimizing packaging, designing products for durability, recycling and reuse, and using recycled materials in the manufacturing of new products.
“Local governments are in serious financial trouble and can better use resources currently going to manage waste products like batteries, needles, and fluorescent lamps to fund police, fire, and basic public health services,” stated Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento, Calif.
“We need manufacturers to take responsibility for what they make, not leave it to the taxpayers and ratepayers to clean-up the mess at very high costs.”
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation is a rising trend on the state level nationwide. With the passing of Connecticut’s EPR legislation this month, 23 states now have laws for discarded electronics that require producers to finance or manage collection and provide responsible recycling for those products.
The USCM resolution is based on a model developed by the Product Policy Institute (PPI).
“Product Policy Institute has been working with governments for seven years to find solutions to the mounting burden of product and packaging waste facing communities,” said PPI Executive Director Bill Sheehan.
“Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors planted their flag in the waste pile and said ‘no more.’ They asked product manufacturers to take primary responsibility for their toxic and non-recyclable products. We’re proud of their leadership on this pressing issue.”