Bill Before State Legislature Aims to Reduce Waste from Packaging
By Michelle Lapinel McAllister, Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor
Plastic pollution is a global problem, and we can see the impact locally. Creation of plastic packaging, in particular, consumes energy and is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Waste generated by all types of packaging, as well as single-use items, continues to increase while recycling rates diminish and large quantities of material intended for recycling end up in landfills or incinerators. More must be done to reduce waste at the source and minimize the amount of garbage entering the waste stream. That’s the goal of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill, which is currently before the New York State legislature.
The EPR bill targets waste products that result from packaging, shifting the burden of cost associated with dealing with that waste from municipalities to producers. In so doing, the bill should ultimately result in less packaging entering the waste stream and also increase recycling rates.
The EPR bill has now garnered support by Governor Kathy Hochul and has been included in her first-term executive budget. While the bill has the potential to create significant change, many environmental organizations are working to convince the governor and state legislature that the current bill needs to be a lot stronger. Suggestions to that end include:
- Eliminate all nonrecyclable plastic in packaging
- Incorporate support for reuse/refill systems
- Set goals for reducing packaging by type of material used and volume
- Set design standards for packaging reduction
The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor has joined other environmental groups in discussing strategies to strengthen the EPR bill and other state legislation, such as an expanded Bigger Better Bottle Bill and a more comprehensive Toxics in Packaging Act.
While the EPR bill has been included in the executive budget, with final state budget approval by April 1, lawmakers can continue to consider the matter throughout the legislative session, which closes in June. (EPR bills have already passed in Maine and Oregon and are in progress in numerous other states.)
Please write to Governor Hochul and our local legislators to support and strengthen the impacts of the EPR bill (see S.1185-C, https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s1185; A.5801, https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/A5801).