Promote Producer Responsibility
We promote producer responsibility to address difficult to handle wastes. Producer responsibility is an approach in which manufacturers are responsible for the products they make from cradle-to-cradle, including providing for and paying for appropriate recycling or disposal. We seek improvements in existing programs for electronic waste, mercury light bulbs, paint, photovoltaic modules (i.e., solar panels), and tires, and new programs for products such as packaging, carpets, batteries, sharps, mattresses and more. In other words, at end of use, you take it back. This also encourages manufactures to design in materials recovery and recycling.
Reduce Plastics Pollution
We work to reduce plastics pollution in our waterways and compost, including microplastics and macroplastics. We do research (helping coordinate litter assessments across the state) and we work to reduce single-use plastics at the local and state level. Recent successes, with our partners, are statewide bans of thin, carryhome plastic bags and Styrofoam food serviceware. We advocate for reduction or redesign of other plastics, including microfibers (fleece), which create microplastics in our waterways. We also seek reductions of contamination of compost such as fruit/veggie stickers, plastic-lined coffee cups and plastic tea bags. We prioritize a move to the use of reusable and refillable items.
Encourage a Culture of Reuse, Repair, Repurpose and Sharing
We promote a culture of reuse, repair, repurpose and sharing at the community level so that there will be a norm shift that reduces the need to purchase products in the first place and provides access for all. We seek to promote a repair economy, including more sharing libraries and networks for expensive, bulky or infrequently used items (e.g., tools, party wares, camping gear), repair utilization, and reuse opportunities such as salvage stores and thrift shops. We seek reduction in consumerism.
Remove Toxic Chemicals from Products
We work to get toxic chemicals out of our products, especially those that cause contamination at end of use. While we seek to promote a circular economy in which products can be re-circulated into useful items again and again, toxic chemicals must be off-ramped for the sake of human and environmental health. We want producers to use the fewest and least toxic chemicals in products (e.g., antibiotics in soaps, heavy metals in electronics; toxic plasticizers (phthalates) in a multitude of products). Critical examples include the use of Teflon chemicals — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — in food serviceware which contaminates compost and flame retardants in millions of sofas which will now require careful disposal.
Promote Redesign of Products
We promote the redesign of products, especially packaging, as a significant waste prevention measure. Mixed packaging (plastics and papers bonded together) cannot be recycled and excess packaging generates nuisance waste. Products designed with a cradle-to-cradle or circular economy approach conserves resources. Innovative use of bio-materials reduces toxicity and allows for cleaner composting.
Help Drive the Market and Reduce Contamination in the Recycling/Compost Streams
We work to help drive the market for recyclable and compostable feedstocks and approaches that will reduce contamination in the recycling and composting streams. Major new facilities, such as a regional plastics recovery facility (PRF) and secondary materials recovery facilities (MRFs), are needed to clean up our recycling streams so that the outputs will be more marketable. Current curbside and facility practices create “dirty” streams. We need to ensure quality recycling and composting processes and that products are actually recycled.
We promote innovation, especially for difficult items where policy or new techniques are needed. Examples include items that make up significant volumes in the landfill such as diapers, kitty litter, pet waste, and “flexible” packaging.