Clawing Back Against Bad Extended Producer Responsibility

Califormia Governor Brown is expected to sign the first ever ‘improvement’ law to be enacted in the US to correct the critical shortcomings of EPR for carpets passed several years ago. Environmental groups, local government, waste haulers, unions and the carpet industry itself have urged Brown to sign the bill, AB 1158.

The bill is an important step for supporters of EPR who realize the necessity to toughen up the laws they originally initiated. Next on their agenda should be the California mattress EPR law which allows for incineration of old mattresses, thereby adding to air pollution and preventing access to mattresses and box springs for recycling and refurbishing and creation of many good jobs in the state.

The current EPR law is not working. “After collecting nearly $45 million in consumer fees, the program has made little meaningful progress, achieving a 3% increase in recycling between 2011 and 2016 (from a baseline of 8% to 11%”.

The new law would protect citizens and the environment from incinerating carpets and require serious efforts to divert this material from landfills. It will:

  • set a recycling goal (to be increased in future years by the state) instead of leaving the amount of recycling up to the carpet industry stewardship group CARE
  • clarify that reduction and recycling is aim, and that disposal won’t count towards that goal. Disposal includes both landfilling and incineration/WTE/kilns. Under existing program, CARE had set goals to increase incineration and co-incineration in cement kilns and was blurring lines with recycling.
  • prevent the carpet stewardship group from using the consumer fines it collected to pay the new $3 million state fine for noncompliance
  • incentivize carpet design changes for recyclability, and carpet to carpet recycling.


FIRST IN THE WORLD CARPET STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT BILL SENT TO GOVERNOR BROWN. For further information contact Heidi Sanborn, California Product Stewardship Council, — (916) 217-1109.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.