PSI Staff – Brendan Adamczyk, Associate

By: Susan Dadzie (PSI Business Manager)

Brendan Adamczyk is an Associate for Policy and Programs at the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI). He is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a major in Environmental Studies and minors in Geography and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. During his time at PSI, he has worked on a wide range of products, including packaging, paint, carpet, mattresses, and solar panels. In his free time, he enjoys reading and exploring Oregon’s many forests and waterways. 

PSI’s Business Manager, Susan Dadzie, spoke with Brendan about his interest in environmental policy, how he wound up at PSI, and where he sees EPR going in the future. 

(The interview below has been edited for length and clarity). 

Which product area or areas are most interesting to you? 

I would say I have two favorites: packaging and paint. I enjoy packaging because everyone handles it every day and so our work requires the engagement of a broader group of stakeholders and is fundamentally about rethinking the way we do recycling overall. And my love for paint stems from the fact that while local governments do not have the resources to recycle paint and many consumers do not know it can be recycled, there is already a well-established system – PaintCare – that can provide a solution. In working on both products, I get to touch on a wide array of the aspects of EPR. 

When did your love of the environment first manifest? In other words, why environmental work? 

Throughout my life, I have been very privileged to live near accessible green spaces and bodies of water and my family has always valued nature. When I moved to Vermont as a young child, I had ample opportunities to enjoy walks in the woods, see the seasons change, and swim in and boat on Lake Champlain. This in turn lead to a fierce desire to protect the environment, including asking all of my friends at my 8th birthday to donate to Save the Whales instead of giving me presents! Once I arrived in college, I began to shift my perspective as I recognized the social justice aspect of environmentalism and focused on helping people, not just protecting nature. 

How did your experiences in college lead to your arrival at PSI? 

Since high school, I have focused my academic and professional time on learning about and addressing climate change, coming to the understanding that you can approach the issue from many different angles: energy generation, product design, transportation, and more. Throughout college, I worked at my school’s Student Sustainability Center and helped run a student organization called the Climate Justice League, striving to make change on my campus and in my community.  

When I first applied at PSI, I had not given much thought to the intersections of climate change, waste management, and recycling. All I knew was that recycling in the U.S. was broken and I assumed there wasn’t really a way to fix the problem. Imagine my surprise when I realized EPR offered a solution that the rest of the world had been using for years! The more I have learned about EPR, the more I think it would benefit the U.S. and the more I know I want to be part of the movement to bring it here.  

What other product area would you love to see EPR more focused on that may not be getting the needed recognition? 

One product I am excited to see rising interest in is solar panels, given that the increasing need and desire for renewable energy means we need to think through end-of-life management as soon as possible. Beyond solar panels, I have been thrilled to see new EPR legislation include equity and environmental justice consideration, such as the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act’s pause on permitting for plastic production facilities and ban on the export of waste to non-OECD countries. I believe that focusing on social justice through the waste management system has the potential to generate a lot of positive change. 

What is your role at PSI? What does an average day look like for you? 

I love working at PSI because there are no typical days! In general, however, I help facilitate the Illinois and Missouri Product Stewardship Councils, work closely with our government members to refine paint policies, meet with legislators and our government members regarding legislation, support consulting projects on carpet, packaging, and solar panels, and assist in any other work as needed on a given day. 

What are some of your proudest achievements in your time at PSI? 

One of my favorite projects was PSI’s COVID-19 Impacts on U.S. Plastics Policies tracker, which we closed in March. It was powerful to see how much COVID affected policy, and it was a personal achievement to keep the tracker up to date for nearly a year. Another achievement has been working with PSI’s paint government strategy group, growing my own knowledge of paint EPR while making genuine progress in understanding our local government members’ perspectives on paint stewardship. Finally, I have enjoyed getting to work on advancing carpet EPR in Oregon and have learned a lot about how legislation is crafted and passed in my home state. 

What motivates you to do this work? What about this work is challenging? 

I am most motivated by the fact that I handle nearly all the products on which we work every day and so I can easily envision the effect that EPR can have on the end of their lifecycles. I see how EPR would manifest in my everyday life and the ways in which it would contribute to fighting climate change, which I consider to be an existential threat to humanity. The fact that I can contribute to this change by facilitating stakeholder conversations and drafting legislation never fails to get me out of the bed in the morning.  

On the other hand, while it is crucial that we continue to engage all of the stakeholders touched by EPR, these conversations can be frustrating when solutions seem apparent to me but are unclear to others. But I know that this is because the changes proposed by EPR are broad and every stakeholder brings a different perspective to the table. It is only by continuing to reach out to people and working to update and evolve our policy models that we can change minds and achieve the future of waste management and recycling for which PSI strives. 

What do you see as the future of EPR? 

In the future, I hope to see EPR policies continue to incorporate equity elements across all products and even develop new components as the national conversation on social justice continues. I would also like to see EPR continue expanding to new product areas, such as solar panels, and to see eco-modulated fees included in EPR for products and packaging. Ultimately, I look forward to seeing how policy experts will learn from the mistakes of past programs to ensure we create better legislation in the future. 

Where do you see yourself in the next, say, 3 or 5 years? 

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an environmental lawyer, so I think I may end up in law school in a few years. If I don’t pursue a law degree, I would still like to stay in the world of environmental policy and pursue higher education in some capacity, so I may wind up in another graduate program. In the long-term, I would love to serve in public office to help influence key environmental decisions and hopefully improve my community.  

PSI Staff – Olivia den Dulk, Associate

By: Brendan Adamczyk (PSI Associate)

Olivia den Dulk is an Associate for Policy and Programs at the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) where she works on product stewardship policy and programs for a range of products including packaging, pharmaceuticals, medical sharps, gas cylinders, and textiles. Olivia is a graduate of Calvin University with a background in environmental studies, international relations, and data science. Before joining PSI, she researched and advocated for environmental policy and justice with Environment360 in Accra, Ghana and with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Olivia is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

PSI’s Associate for Policy and Programs, Brendan Adamczyk, spoke with Olivia to hear about what led her to work at PSI, what a typical day looks like, and what about EPR motivates and challenges her.

(The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)

When did your love of the environment first manifest? In other words, why environmental work?

I’ve always loved outdoor spaces and felt the most at peace when I was in nature. My family loves the outdoors, and so I was privileged to grow up hiking and backpacking with them in Michigan, my home state, and with my extended family in California. That love of nature became more focused when in sixth grade, I participated in a program through our public schools called “Zoo School.” I spent a year of school at the local John Ball Zoo and had the chance to work closely with the animals and study sustainability more broadly. During that year I began to more clearly recognize the ways that humans negatively impact the natural spaces and wildlife that I loved so much, and how our habits need to change. I was grateful for this opportunity and really valued environmental education, though I didn’t fully see the broader connection between sustainability, helping people, and environmental injustice until college.

How did your experiences in high school and college lead to your arrival at PSI?

Throughout high school, I began to learn more about how environmental injustices were being committed, not just towards wildlife but people as well. With that knowledge in mind, I went to college at Calvin University aiming to learn how policy can be used to address environmental issues, ultimately getting degrees in Environment Studies and International Relations.

The most pivotal experience in college was when I was studying abroad in Accra, Ghana during my sophomore year. I took a class on climate change at the University of Ghana, and through discussions with my peers I learned how increased drought in some parts of the country and increased flooding in others was forcing people to leave their homes. I also worked with waste pickers in Accra and learned about the complexities of their lives. Their situation is nuanced, as they rely on gathering and recycling plastic waste as a source of income, but they also experience the negative impacts of plastic pollution disproportionately in their communities.

Through my education, work, and conversations in Ghana, the nuanced impacts of environmental degradation on vulnerable communities that I had learned about in the classroom at home became much clearer and more tangible. When I returned to Michigan, I became an Inclusion Intern at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, which allowed me to connect what I had learned in Ghana with injustices in my own community in Michigan and explore ways in which we could better serve low-income communities and communities of color that were being harmed or overlooked.

I joined PSI to continue to examine complex environmental and economic problems, such as our broken recycling system, and to find ways to alleviate impacts on vulnerable communities and ecosystems.

What is your role at PSI? What does an average day look like for you?

As an Associate, I am involved with a wide range of PSI activities. I primarily work on packaging, gas cylinders, pharmaceuticals, medical sharps, and textiles, tracking and analyzing legislation for these products and engaging directly with state-level and national stakeholders to make sure their perspectives are being heard. Within these product areas, I also help write reports on trends in the industry, including a monthly report on the stability of local recycling programs in the wake of the China Sword and COVID-19. And, I coordinate and facilitate two of PSI’s major groups, the Missouri Product Stewardship Council (PSC) and the Oklahoma Meds & Sharps Disposal Committee, planning meetings and projects. Overall, working at PSI has been wonderful because I have had the chance to explore a wide range of different skills and aspects of environmental policy with every member of our team.

What are some of your proudest achievements in your time at PSI?

In my past 9 months at PSI, I am most proud of my work on EPR for gas cylinders. Working with the Connecticut PSC, we put together a large stakeholder meeting to discuss legislation in Connecticut, holding two 5-hour Zoom calls on back-to-back days. From this work and from PSI’s model EPR legislative elements document, we then drafted language that was incorporated into a bill, HB 6386, which has passed out of the Joint Committee on Environment and is likely to be voted on in the House soon. Beyond that project, I’m excited to see the growing momentum for packaging EPR across the country and the role that PSI has played in a number of the bills that have been introduced. I am also inspired by the work PSI is doing to integrate equity into our projects as well as the progress we have made in the Missouri PSC and the Oklahoma Medical Sharps Disposal Workgroup to promote pharmaceutical take-back programs.

What motivates you to do this work? What about this work is challenging?

I am motivated by PSI’s vision of a more equitable recycling system, both in terms of who manages waste but also in how we can improve the system for those most impacted by pollution, disposal, and recycling, specifically low-income communities and communities of color. Moreover, I’m driven by the product-specific impacts I see, from the waste management professionals who are put in danger by explosive gas cylinders to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been impacted by the opioid crisis.


In terms of challenges, it’s difficult to grapple with the fact that not everyone is on board with our vision and trying to get all of the different stakeholders on the same page is challenging, even for something as relatively simple as gas cylinders. But bringing people together is something PSI does very well, and it is often a really rewarding task. Beyond this, I’ve realized that not everyone knows about EPR in the general public – I hardly knew about it until I came to PSI – and we need to educate more people to make sure our programs are as successful as they can be.

Where do you see EPR going in the next year?

I hope to see EPR bills for gas cylinders and packaging pass by the end of the 2022 session, which I think is an achievable goal given the current momentum around the country. For packaging, I think we’ll begin to see more bills with an eye towards creating equity within the recycling system as well as reducing waste at the source, two components that PSI has integrated into our best practices model. Overall, I expect to see more conversations about EPR in the next year thanks to the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act and the CLEAN Future Act, two pieces of federal legislation that include EPR components, which should create a broader conversation about EPR at the national level.

This fall, you will be going to law school for environmental law. What interests you about law school?

I enjoy the nitty-gritty details of laws and regulations and finding ways to use them as tools for creating environmental justice, whether it’s fixing the broken recycling system or addressing cumulative pollution impacts. I know there are so many different tools to create change, but my strength and passion is in using the law. I’ve seen how the law can be used to let humans and the environment flourish – or inhibit them – whether in Ghana, with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, or at PSI. Overall, I’m interested in how international environmental law, like the Basel Convention, can impact local communities – and how we can create positive change using these policies.


Looking Back, Looking Forward: Saying Farewell to PSI’s COVID Tracker

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Single-Use Plastics

By Brendan Adamczyk, PSI Associate for Policy and Programs

One year ago, PSI’s Sydney Harris noticed a troubling trend around the country: states and municipalities were rolling back regulations on single-use plastics due to fears of surface transmission of COVID-19. Wanting to understand the magnitude of this trend, Sydney launched PSI’s COVID-19 Impacts on U.S. Plastics Policy Tracker, chronicling delayed legislation, lifted bag bans and fees, and bans on reusable bags on city, county, and state levels. She also included impacts on bottle deposits, other single-use plastics (such as polystyrene takeout containers), and relevant major news coverage. I joined PSI’s team in June and have worked over the past nine months to keep the tracker up to date.

In the year since, we have learned from health experts across the globe that reusables are just as safe as single-use plastics. The plastics industry promoted the idea that plastics reduce exposure to COVID-19 as early as mid-March 2020, requesting that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department speak out in support of single-use plastics. This is one example in a long history of plastics producers misleading the public about the benefits of plastics and their role in the plastic pollution crisis– a crisis that has only deepened as a result of COVID-19, with consumption of single-use plastics rising by up to 300% while plastic pollution in the oceans continues to climb.

Ongoing Impacts of COVID-19
The impacts of COVID-19 on single-use plastics regulations have been severe and spread out across the country, as one can see by looking at the map below. In 2020, nine of the ten states with bottle deposit programs (all states except Hawaii) temporarily suspended collections. Interruptions lasted for months, with the last state (California) resuming collection at the end of August. Beyond these programs, 72 waste-reduction policies were delayed, lifted, or suspended because of the pandemic. On top of this, 16 new policies were enacted that restricted the use of reusable bags and containers. Overall, these 88 policy impacts spanned 23 states and the District of Columbia and are comprised of:

• 21 delayed plastic bag bans or fees;
• 26 lifted plastic bag bans;
• 15 lifted plastic bag fees;
• 16 new policies that barred customers from using reusable bags or takeout containers; and
• 10 suspended or lifted policies banning plastic straws or polystyrene cups and takeout containers.

2021.03.29_ COVID Plastics Impacts Map

As of today (April 1, 2021), 25 of the 88 policies, or 28 percent, remain affected, all of which are bans or fees on plastic bags that continue to be either delayed in implementation or are still suspended. In addition, eight jurisdictions withdrew previously planned bag or polystyrene ban legislation, most notably Colorado, Maryland, and New Hampshire, all of which pulled bag bans. In part due to the now-debunked myth that reusable bags transmit COVID-19, Ohio and Pennsylvania passed statewide preemption laws that prevent municipalities from banning plastic bags through the middle of 2021. The state of Pennsylvania is currently being sued by a group of municipalities, led by Philadelphia, who want to maintain their ability to ban bags at the local level. The graphs below illustrate how these policies were spread across cities, counties, and states and how many of them continue to be impacted one year after the start of the pandemic.

Single-Use Plastic Policies Impacted by COVID-19
Single-Use Plastics Policies Impacted by COVID-19_2

Even amidst the pandemic, however, it has not all been bad news for plastics regulation. During the past year, six jurisdictions passed bans on plastic bags, including New Jersey’s robust ban on both plastic and paper bags. Additionally, eight previously-passed bans on plastic bags or polystyrene containers took effect despite the pandemic, including bag bans in three states – Delaware, Vermont, and Virginia – as well as a ban on expanded polystyrene in Maryland.

Looking to the Future
In the wake of COVID-19, which also had major impacts on the U.S. recycling system in the beginning of the pandemic and will pose ongoing challenges in the future, it is clear that change is sorely needed. PSI advocates for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation that holds producers accountable for their products and packaging by shifting the financial and management burden of recycling from taxpayers and local governments to consumer brands. Globally, EPR for packaging has helped solid waste programs stay resilient in the face of COVID-19, with a study conducted by Éco-Entreprises Québec finding that curbside recycling experienced fewer pandemic-related disruptions in Canadian provinces with EPR than those without. This is true despite Canadian programs facing the same challenges as the U.S. did, including a 30% increase in residential trash volume and employee shortages throughout the pandemic.

In the United States, momentum for EPR legislation for packaging and paper products has greatly increased. At least 13 bills across 10 different states have been introduced or are expected to be introduced in the 2021 legislative session, as well as two bills on the federal level: the CLEAN Future Act, an overarching climate bill that includes EPR elements, and the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, a waste reduction bill centered around a packaging EPR model, which was informed directly by PSI’s model and would overhaul the U.S. waste management system.

For now, while some policies and recycling programs remain affected, PSI will be no longer be updating our COVID Impacts Tracker as most of the country has returned their single-use plastic policies to pre-pandemic status. Instead, we are focusing our energy on the EPR bills above. The lessons we have learned over the past year are important. But it is now time to look forward, knowing we have the policy tools to drive genuine change in the U.S. waste management system. EPR for packaging and paper products will stabilize and improve our recycling programs and push our country away from single-use plastics towards a circular economy built on closed-loop recycling. EPR legislation is a policy whose time has come.

PSI Staff – Sydney Harris, Senior Associate

By: Brendan Adamczyk (PSI Associate)

Sydney Harris is a Senior Associate at the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), where she leads policy and program work related to plastics and packaging. Her background in marine science and pollution prevention includes microplastics and marine debris research, policy advocacy, and program development, including launching the U.S. EPA’s Trash Free Waters program in Region 10 (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska). She is also passionate about racial, social, and environmental justice and has held many youth advocacy and education positions. Sydney’s current work at PSI focuses on supporting state and local governments around the U.S. in developing, introducing, and passing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies on consumer packaging. In her spare time, she enjoys any excuse to get outdoors – especially hiking, camping, scuba diving, and kayaking.

PSI’s Associate for Policy and Programs, Brendan Adamczyk, spoke with Sydney to hear about her career, her work at PSI, and what excites her about EPR.

(The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)

When did your love of the environment first manifest? In other words, why environmental work?
I’ve always loved the environment. I have a childhood memory of an oil spill in the early 1990s. I remember my mom explaining the pictures in the newspaper, what an oil spill is, and that just a few years prior there had been a much bigger spill (the Exxon Valdez spill) in Alaska. I wanted to go help – although at 5, I thought helping meant snuggling oily ducklings. Apparently, they don’t tend to accept 5-year-olds at the sites of oil spills, but my mom told me that someday my whole job could involve preventing this from happening again, and that really made an impression. I was extremely privileged growing up and had the opportunity to enjoy various watersports in all sorts of beautiful places. I have always felt at home outdoors. As I grew up and realized not everyone had access to these same experiences, I was drawn to environmental education and to preserving natural spaces.

How did your career lead to your arrival at PSI?
In my career so far, I have searched for balance between my passions: science, education, and the environment. I loved studying physics at Oberlin College, but the whole thing was indoors, inside of cold observatories or dark basement labs. During that time, I felt removed from the urgent issues impacting people and the planet. For my master’s degree, I studied marine bioacoustics at the University of Auckland – a way to move science into the sunshine and apply it to conservation. Along the way I had many stints in education – the best was being a snorkel instructor in New Zealand. It was impossible not to notice marine debris while spending so much time in the water, and I realized through outdoor education that plastic pollution is an issue everyone can relate to. That’s how I got hooked on plastics and packaging.

After returning to the U.S., I became a research fellow with the U.S. EPA’s Region 10 Ocean Dumping program, where I was surprised to learn that EPA was not monitoring for microplastics in dredged sediments, drinking water, or anywhere else at the time. Meanwhile, EPA headquarters and other Regions around the country were establishing a national Trash Free Waters program to research marine debris and explore solutions. So, I partnered with a colleague and together we brought the Trash Free Waters program to our Region. But after a couple of years monitoring marine debris and assessing its impacts, I wanted to move upstream. It was clear what the source of the issue was, and I wanted to advocate for policy changes to address it. Working on policy combines the research and technical elements I love about science with many of the outreach elements I love about education, and of course that includes an environmental focus as well. Working at PSI allows me to combine all three of these passions and a few other interests I’ve picked up along the way, like facilitation and conflict resolution. Best of all, I get to focus upstream by holding producers accountable and making them part of the solution.

Of course, I really have Sego Jackson – one of PSI’s founding members and an Honorary Board Member with the City of Seattle – to thank for letting me know about PSI! We knew each other through my work with the Trash Free Waters program and had both been involved in various west-coast projects like the Washington Marine Debris Action Plan, which I was helping to facilitate. Sego is the one who told me about PSI when I moved back east.

What is your role at PSI? What does an average day look like for you?
Currently, I am PSI’s packaging lead. Day-to-day, this varies between having a ton of meetings, doing technical research and preparing reports, and big-picture thinking. I’m often facilitating or helping to facilitate conversations between divergent stakeholders on the packaging issue, and sometimes I might be presenting or speaking at an event. The common denominator is that not a day goes by where I don’t learn something interesting. Everyone here is so smart and I learn so much from our staff, our members, and our partners.

What are some of your proudest achievements in your past year at PSI?
The EPR for packaging report that we released in March of 2020 really helped me get up to speed on EPR and was one of the first things I did here. I’m also really proud of how we pivoted our project with Sea Grant last year to switch from focusing on plastic reduction in restaurants to helping them manage the COVID pandemic while still reducing single-use plastics – and still getting it done on time and within budget. But I’m most proud of all the packaging bills that are coming out in 2021 and the role we’ve played in them. It’s great to see how much momentum there is for packaging EPR, and I appreciate that we are constantly evolving and updating our packaging model and are always pivoting to have the most relevant conversations.

What motivates you to do this work? What about this work challenges you?
Big picture, what motivates me is changing the conversation around EPR – there’s an increasing recognition both in the U.S. and globally that EPR is not just about end-of-life management solutions. It’s motivating to think about evolving EPR policies to be impactful and comprehensive. Immediately, we’re in the middle of legislative session and we have nearly a dozen bills in play right now – we’re so close to this major milestone of passing the first packaging EPR bill in the country, and I want to be here for that.

In terms of challenges, there is always the challenge of getting many stakeholders to agree on policy. One thing that bugs me is the continued myth that consumers need to take more responsibility for their role in the waste crisis. To me, this is a total falsehood and it’s a big part of why I’m here – we simply have to change the system. Consumers do not have that power alone – producers do.

Where do you see EPR going in the next year?
I think packaging will continue to be “large and in charge” in the near term. While we may not see all bills passed this year, they will be reintroduced and will only get stronger as momentum keeps building. Beyond packaging, a whole new set of products is emerging, from textiles to solar panels and wind turbines.

There’s also an increasing sophistication in how we think about EPR – moving beyond just recycling and even beyond just source reduction, onto critical issues like equitable economic opportunities in waste management, aligning environmental criteria with reuse and toxics reduction, and more. While EPR may seem like a niche policy area to some, it’s a key part of the circular economy, which itself is crucial to tackling climate change and understanding humanity’s role on the planet, and I think these conversations are finally beginning to converge.  

Janet Domenitz, PSI Friend and Collaborator, Celebrates 40 years at MassPIRG

Janet Domenitz - MassPIRG

By: Olivia den Dulk (PSI Associate)

Janet Domenitz recently celebrated 40 years at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG) this past December, 20 years of which she has served as the Executive Director. Through her work at MassPIRG, Janet has been a strong advocate for the public interest, with a particular focus on zero waste and recycling, and has collaborated with PSI on a variety of efforts. Most recently, Janet and PSI worked together to forge an agreement with Massachusetts environmental groups and local governments on developing a packaging Producer Responsibility bill for MA.

PSI’s Olivia den Dulk sat down with Janet (virtually) to hear about her life, her accomplishments, her goals, and her advice for the next generation of environmentalists.

(The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)

What motivated you to begin your work with MassPIRG?
Growing up, my mom was very involved in civic activities. Then I went to Brandeis University in the 1970s and took part in activism there. When I graduated, I wanted to do something to help change the world and then go to law school. The law school thing is still on hold 40 years later.

Looking back, it was a lot of threads of my life and my family that helped chart my path. It’s one of those things where you go to your 20th high school reunion and people are like “Oh yeah, I knew you were going to do that.”

What has kept you at MassPIRG for 40 years?
First, I have really felt privileged to be a part of an organization that puts organizing first. I think that is what democracy is all about: organizing people and building community. Secondly, it is an organization that was founded by college students so the DNA of it is young people. I think that is so important. Third, we take those words “public interest” literally. That opens a theory of change that doesn’t put you in a particular camp. We cut across all constituencies. We really don’t focus on whether you’re a man or woman, black or white, young or old, or living in the city or the country. Instead, we think about things like clean air. We all need it, so we go for it. It’s simple but powerful.

What do you see as your key accomplishments during your career?
It’s more of a theme than a particular thing. When I recall the times that were really hard, this past year being one of them, there’s like a secret sauce. People just get stronger. There is not a lot of time spent bemoaning, feeling victimized, or lashing out. We just note that this problem is bigger than usual and ask ourselves how we are going to work a little harder to get over the challenge.

For example, in 2014, we’d been working on the bottle bill for years, finally went to the ballot, and got crushed. We didn’t just lose, we got crushed. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself or not know how to move forward when you have a stumbling block put in the way like that. But we just figure out a path forward. This year, 6 years later, we are introducing a new bill and reviving the whole campaign.

What do you see as the unfinished business?
For a long time, and to this moment, many people define success and progress as how much stuff we make, produce, and innovate. We have to stop doing that. It’s a bigger quest to redefine what progress and success is about. For example, there was a time we needed to figure out how to make toothpaste so that everybody could have toothpaste and good oral hygiene. Now we make 50 million types of toothpaste, it’s all over-packaged, and there is no end to it. The unfinished business is how you take the brains, the resources, and the values that we have and create a path for a sustainable planet.

What are the major changes in the environmental movement that you have seen in your 40 years at MassPIRG?
I would say that it has become more mainstream.

Would you say that has made your work easier?
I think both easier and harder. The public is more aware, receptive, and engaged. But on the other hand, there is more green-washing and co-optation by people who are not actually pro-environment. They realize that it’s something effective to sell, so they spend a lot of money convincing people of things that are not really environmental.

What has seemingly stayed the same over the course of your time at MassPIRG?
I think there is a real, authentic love of nature, the outdoors, and physical beauty that is timeless. I think most people don’t want drilling in the arctic now and they didn’t 50 years ago. They want beaches to be pristine and beautiful places to hike and camp. It’s so charged these days to say, but I think that’s an American value, I really do.

What hopes do you have for the year ahead, and how do you see MassPIRG’s relationship with PSI playing into that?
My top campaign is around zero waste. The past year has posed some new challenges because with a lot of people changing their routines, we are consuming a lot of stuff. Massachusetts must adopt a 10-year Solid Waste Master Plan soon – and it will basically lay out the roadmap for what we do with waste over the next ten years. We have been asking that the Plan adopt a goal of zero waste. I think in this particular moment it is a little harder to imagine, given COVID and the way people’s lifestyles have changed. But on the other hand it has never seemed more compelling and important to me. The pandemic has revealed a lot of ways in which we’re ailing and have to heal and do things in a healthier way. And I think generating waste is one of them so I’m hoping that we can redouble our efforts to create this goal of zero waste. I’m hoping we can work with PSI closely on that.

What advice would you give to the next generation of environmental advocates?
I hate giving advice – I think it sounds presumptuous. I guess I would say the work is hard in a wonderful way. I sometimes worry that a lot of young people who went to college and majored in environmental studies aren’t ready to do battle with the forces out there. It’s not enough to just know and have the academic credentials. It’s a battle. It’s a fight, and it’s honorable and worthy. But advocacy to preserve the environment is not like taking a graduate level class.

What are some ways to prepare for that battle?
Some of the people who do the best work were athletes. They were on a team, they work really hard, they set goals for themselves, and they don’t let obstacles get in the way. That’s just as important as your knowledge base, to actually make things happen in the world of environmental protection and preservation.

COVID Slows Legislative Activity but Packaging Bills Press Onward

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly slowed legislative activity in many states across many product categories, yet packaging bills have been particularly active in the past few months. California AB 1080 and SB 54, which did not pass, would have established a fee on single-use plastics and consumer packaging and required the state agency to evaluate options – including EPR — for potential inclusion in regulations. Another California bill, AB 793, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September mandates that plastic and glass beverage bottles contain minimum thresholds of post-consumer content.

Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

In Colorado, the passage of SB20-055 prompted the State’s Department of Public Health and Environment to launch a legislative and literature review of EPR as a potential solution to the problems posed by packaging. New Jersey and Maryland have also recently taken action to address packaging waste: the New Jersey legislature passed a bill to ban single-use plastic and paper bags and Maryland’s foam food container ban, introduced by Delegate Brooke Lierman, takes effect this fall after initial delays due to COVID-19. At the federal level, Senator Tom Udall (D- NM), co-sponsor of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which included EPR contributions from PSI, recently introduced the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act which would prohibit the discharge and pollution of pre-production plastic pellets into the environment.

PSI anticipates the 2021 legislative session will be a busy one for EPR, with bills planned for a range of product areas including paint, carpet, mattresses, and HHW, as well as packaging. In PSI’s online Legislative Library, you can keep tabs on the movement of legislation across U.S. jurisdictions that would establish new EPR programs, amend existing EPR laws, or are related to EPR. Through this Member- and Partner-only resource, maintained by the PSI team on an ongoing basis, you can check a bill’s status, download the most recent bill version, and search for laws and bills by year, jurisdiction, product, or bill type.

PSI is actively advising on bill development and is currently holding government strategy calls for Full Members on multiple products. For more information or to join the calls, contact Brendan Adamczyk.

Envisioning a More Equitable Recycling System

By: Olivia den Dulk (PSI Associate), Sydney Harris (PSI Senior Associate), and Scott Cassel (PSI CEO/Founder)

Recycling used to be a reliable source of revenue for many US municipalities when China imported 70 percent of the plastics we put in our recycling bins. China and other countries, like Malaysia, paid for post-consumer recyclables that included high levels of contamination, which allowed Americans to generate waste and recycling without giving much thought to where it ended up. But while this system was easy and cheap, it was also unfair to export our environmental problems to vulnerable communities, contaminating their air, land, and water with our trash. In China, for instance, much of the imported contaminated material was difficult to recycle, ending up in landfills or polluting agricultural land and waterways. Due to the sheer volume of incoming waste and recyclables, illegal (unpermitted) waste was not easily tracked and a large amount arrived, exposing children to toxics. China enacted its National Sword Policy in 2018 to restrict imports of most plastics and other post-consumer materials, leaving U.S. municipalities reeling.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

For two years, PSI has been tracking news reports from over 170 US cities and counties affected by China’s import ban. Initially the U.S. and other Western countries looked to other countries as a destination for recyclables, but soon their facilities, too, were overwhelmed with our waste. In Malaysia, the high degree of contamination of the recyclables shipped led to burning the waste, which released toxics into communities. Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and India have all subsequently restricted post-consumer plastics imports.

Widespread Negative Impacts on U.S. Recycling Programs

The impacts on U.S. recycling programs and municipal budgets have been dramatic. One report found that the “China Ban” resulted in a 50 percent decrease in overall revenue for municipalities that sold recyclables due to the sudden lack of viable markets. Another found that the end market value of recyclable materials fell from more than $90 per ton at the beginning of 2017 to around $24 per ton at the end of 2019, as buyers for post-consumer materials grew increasingly scarce.

As post-consumer export restrictions took hold, municipal budgets tightened, taxpayers and ratepayers saw increased fees, and many programs eliminated certain items from collection lists that no longer had viable markets. Over 60 local recycling programs closed entirely.

PSI found that, on average, municipal recycling costs increased by about $900,000 per year, according to the local news reports that we have tracked. This figure varied widely with the size of the municipality, the region, and the program itself. For example, smaller communities like Parkside, PA and Kilgore, TX saw increases of $13,000 per year and $20,000 per year, respectively. By contrast, larger municipalities experienced bigger impacts. Boston, MA saw a $4.8 million increase in recycling costs in 2019. In Philadelphia, costs rose from $5 per ton of collected material to $106 per ton. Many U.S. programs that used to earn a revenue from selling recycling saw that revenue dramatically decrease or disappear, or had to pay processors to take the recyclable materials for the first time, drastically increasing their net recycling costs. Phoenix, AZ and San Diego, CA saw revenues drop $5.6 million per year and $3.4 million per year, respectively.

In states where individual residents (ratepayers) fund recycling programs directly, residents paid on average $1.96 more per month, with increases as high as $5 per month in communities in Massachusetts and Illinois.   

PSI’s research also found that the impacts of the China Ban on municipal recycling have been exacerbated by the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the pressure of rising recycling costs coupled with the financial strain of the pandemic, several communities report that they are seriously considering closing their recycling programs permanently.  

Municipalities in every region are still struggling to find affordable ways to recycle, accepting fewer materials, and raising residents’ rates even though China’s Ban was enacted over two years ago. Where local programs have closed, residents are often left with no choice but to dispose of recyclables in their household trash. In some instances, collected recyclables have ultimately been disposed due to a lack of viable end markets, often to the dismay of residents. But while these negative impacts are concerning, we should not go back to the inequitable global export model we used to rely on. Clearly, something must change.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Creating a More Equitable System

By implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and paper products in the United States, we will shift the financial and managerial  burden of recycling away from overburdened municipalities and taxpayers to the companies that produce, sell, and profit from consumer products, and stop burdening poorer countries that did not produce the waste in the first place. Without a healthy domestic economy for recycling, we incur lost economic value, lost jobs, and an enormous cost to human and environmental health. We all stand to benefit in this more equitable system – from enhanced quality and supply of recycled content for packaging and other products, from U.S. jobs in the recycling and manufacturing sectors, and from healthier communities.

As we look ahead to the 2021 legislative session, PSI is working with our members and partners in many states and at the federal level to develop and support effective EPR for packaging bills. Our work is based on our model, a set of recommendations and policy options developed through close collaboration with our members. PSI’s EPR model has been incorporated into the federal Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, recently introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal to reduce packaging waste. The model has also influenced the development of EPR legislation for packaging in numerous states, including New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, and California.

We urge you to support emerging bills that use EPR to address the recycling crisis, to consider this approach for your own state, and to engage your company in this process.

For more information, we have plenty of resources to help. We recently updated and re-released our EPR for Packaging and Paper Products (PPP) report. This report provides guidance on the fundamentals of EPR for PPP and how it can effectively increase packaging recycling and recovery, reduce contamination, and develop markets for difficult-to-recycle materials. It includes the most up-to-date information about four successful Canadian programs, and an in-depth case study of program in British Columbia, the first full producer responsibility program for packaging in North America.

PSI is also working with the Flexible Packaging Association to mediate a set of shared principles of EPR for PPP in the United States, which is the first time industry and government have come together to work substantively on EPR policy for packaging.

The 2018 China Ban was a hard awakening for U.S. municipal recycling programs, and for two years local governments have struggled with the repercussions. Exporting our waste to developing countries is no longer a solution. It is time to put in place modern, equitable recycling systems that are better for both our planet and the financial and physical health of communities both here and abroad.

Recycling Programs + Single-Use Plastics Policies Remain Impacted by Pandemic

By Brendan Adamczyk & Olivia Den Dulk

In June, PSI examined the initial impacts of COVID-19 on US recycling programs as municipalities suspended services and re-evaluated their budgets. Cities with recycling programs were struggling with the initial impacts of the pandemic. In Miami, FL residents were instructed to mix trash and recycling and in Los Angeles, CA recycling materials were diverted to the landfill. This summer, we continued monitoring the effects of the pandemic on recycling programs and found that while many recycling pick-up and drop-off services have reopened, other impacts continue to present serious challenges for recycling programs. Cities of various sizes across the country have continued to face two key difficulties: First, recycling programs contended with employee shortages as staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus, quarantined because of possible exposure, or stayed home due to the risk that the virus presented. Second, residents disposed of more trash and recycling while spending more time at home.

Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD both exemplified this two-fold problem this summer. Philadelphia residents disposed of 30% more trash during the pandemic and sanitation crews struggled to keep up, especially as some employees tested positive and had to take time off from work. Residents complained of unsightly trash left on the curb for days, and in August some crews had to resort to mixing trash and recycling. Baltimore experienced a 20% increase in trash, and several employees either contracted the virus or quit because of the virus risk. The city was overwhelmed by these compounding problems and announced that recycling pick-up would be suspended for at least a month beginning on August 31.

While several municipalities have reopened their recycling services, PSI expects that COVID-19 will continue to cause employee shortages and increased volumes for months to come as cities face new outbreaks and manage them by implementing lockdowns and restrictions. Budgetary impacts on recycling programs have also persisted since the outbreak of the pandemic. Some cities proposed terminating their curbside recycling programs altogether. Others switched to bi-weekly services. Some municipalities stopped accepting materials, such as cardboard and some plastics. It is clear, and concerning, that these changes will have a lasting impact on programs across the country, particularly as local governments are still grappling with with the budgetary impacts of the 2018 China Sword Policy.

Plastics Policies Rolled Back

Beyond recycling programs, COVID-19 has also had a major impact on plastic pollution policy across the United States. Since March of this year, PSI has been monitoring these changes on the city, county, and state levels in our COVID-19 Impacts on U.S. Plastics Policy tracker, chronicling delayed legislation, lifted bag bans and fees, and bans on reusable bags, as well as impacts on bottle deposits, other single-use plastics (such as polystyrene takeout containers), and relevant major news coverage.

What we have found is troubling: at least 79 policies rolling back restrictions on single-use plastic bags and takeout containers or banning reusable bags were imposed between March and August 2020, spanning 22 states and the District of Columbia. As of September 1, 45 of these policies, or 57%, remain in effect, with more than a dozen guaranteed to extend through the beginning of 2021 – just one of the many policy impacts of COVID-19. The graphics below indicate the impact on plastic bags, the biggest category impacted by recent changes:

It’s clear from this data that a wide swatch of municipalities rescinded or delayed bans on plastic products, with some even banning reusable bags outright, all based on claims that plastic helped reduce exposure to COVID-19. This idea was promoted by the plastics industry in mid-March, when they urged the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to speak out against bans and in support of single-use plastics. However, research soon revealed turning to plastics was not the solution, as a June 2020 statement signed by more than 125 health experts from 18 countries urged retailers, governments, and consumers alike that reusables were just as safe as single-use-plastics. This is the most recent example in a long pattern of the plastic industry placing the burden of systemic problems on individuals and deflecting focus from plastic pollution instead of taking responsibility for their role in the plastic pollution crisis.

What EPR Can Do

While the problem is clear, what is the solution? PSI advocates for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation for packaging and paper products that holds producers accountable for their products by shifting the financial and management burden of recycling from taxpayers and local governments to the packaging producers themselves. Around the world, EPR for packaging has helped solid waste programs weather the economic uncertainties of the China National Sword as well as the COVID-19 crisis. For example, a study conducted by Eco-Entreprises Quebec found that in the areas in Canada where EPR has been implemented, curbside recycling experienced fewer disruptions than in provinces without EPR. Furthermore, recycling services in provinces with EPR were far more resilient to the effects of COVID-19 than programs in the United States, despite Canadian programs facing the same challenges as the U.S., including a 30% increase in residential trash volume and employee shortages.

In the United States, at least 10 states will be considering EPR for plastic and packaging products in the upcoming 2021 legislative session, while the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, introduced in February 2020 by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), would implement EPR for packaging and paper products on a national scale, along with a nationwide container deposit requirement, bans on certain single-use plastic products, a carryout bag fee, and standardized labeling for recycling and disposal.

As the nation continues to work through this crisis, we need to aim higher than the status quo – now is the time to adopt EPR legislation for packaging and paper products in the U.S. so that we can stabilize and improve our recycling programs and build their resiliency in the face of any challenges that may lie ahead.  

Tackling Food Service Waste, Pre- and Post-Pandemic

In 2018, PSI published a guide for restaurants and eateries on how to reduce food service waste. Working with four restaurants and many community members in Greenport, New York, we developed concrete tools and steps these businesses could take in order to reduce their use of single-use plastics and other forms of disposable service ware, thereby reducing the amount of marine debris washing up on Long Island’s beaches. The project was such a success that we wanted to do more. In 2019, we received funding from New York Sea Grant to update and expand our Restaurant Guide by working with a group of restaurants in Buffalo, NY.

While Buffalo is not a coastal community like Greenport, it does sit right on the shores of Lake Eerie and is famously connected to Lake Ontario via Niagara Falls. Aquatic debris is common in the Great Lakes, and we were excited to join together with the Buffalo community to tackle the issue upstream. We started by partnering with restaurants, as well as Eerie and Niagara Counties, the City of Buffalo, the Visit Buffalo Niagara center, and local environmental advocates at Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment. Our aim was to develop customized plastic source reduction plans for all of our participating restaurants using the tools we had developed in Greenport, and to expand upon these existing tools with tailor-made materials that businesses could use to inform their customers about the changes they were making.

Unfortunately, our project did not quite go as planned. Early in 2020, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 became a global pandemic and businesses across the U.S. were forced to shut down. All of our participating restaurants in Buffalo were impacted, either closing temporarily or switching to take-out-only business models. Sadly, the switch to take-out required them to use a lot of disposable service ware. As we checked in with our Buffalo partners, our conversations with them about their switch to take-out got us thinking… How could we best support them moving forward to ensure they could remain open and serving their customers safely while operating in a completely new – and much more disposable – world? Thanks to quick responses from NY Sea Grant and the project’s advisory committee, we were able to pivot our work to focus on the impacts of COVID-19 on restaurant waste, focusing our attention on creating resources for our partner restaurants and the broader Buffalo community.

We are proud to present our updated Guide for Restaurants and Eateries: 5 Easy Steps to Reduce Plastic and Benefit your Business. The Guide and accompanying web hub are complete with helpful tips for reducing plastic waste while operating as a take-out/delivery business, and models for safe, sustainable waste reduction in a post-COVID landscape.

Here’s a shout-out to the amazing restaurants we worked with for this project:

  • Bob Syracuse, owner of the Pizza Plant Italian Pub in Buffalo and Williamsville, was the very first restaurant to partner with us. Bob is not only dedicated to sustainability in food service – which was clear through his participation in the project’s advisory committee – he also serves on the Western New York Chapter of the New York State Restaurants Association. Bob was a true leader on this project.
  • Years ago, owner Ellie Grenauer of Williamsville’s Glen Park Tavern started the Williamsville farmers market with a friend, creating the ideal source for local produce for her restaurant all summer long. After pledging to reduce the restaurant’s plastic footprint with us, Ellie also eliminated plastic bags and switched to compostable straws.
  • At the Parkside Meadow restaurant in Buffalo, proprietor Nancy Abramo already recycled cardboard – and lots of it – as well as all wine and liquor bottles. She also used sugarcane-based clamshells for to-go orders placed over the phone and experimented with switching to paper straws. Because paper straws can be pricey, she ultimately told her servers not to provide them unless requested, which elicited a largely positive response from patrons.
  • Angelo Ashker, owner of Ashker’s, had implemented a progrm for customers wishing to avoid disposable take-out items. His popular bottle trade program gave customers a glass bottle with a lid for juices or iced coffees – and even snacks like overnight oats and hummus – which they could return for a trade value on their next purchase. On double-value days, customers would receive even deeper discounts for returning their jars. For in-house dining, nearly everything at Ashker’s was reusable. Angelo was not pleased to be using plastic products for to-go orders outside of the bottle trade program and was in the midst of launching a deposit-based system for reusable take-out containers before the pandemic. Angelo’s vision is to partner with other local restaurants to create a network of pick-up and return locations for reusable take-out containers throughout Buffalo, casting a wider net for eco-minded customers and further reducing the community’s plastic footprint.
  • The Dapper Goose in Buffalo had already eliminated nearly every single-use item before connecting with us and was actively looking into its last target: straws. 

COVID-19 Impacts U.S. Recycling Programs

By Sydney Harris, Senior Policy Associate, Product Stewardship Institute

As states responded to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, municipal recycling programs across the U.S. felt the impacts. Eco-Entreprises Quebec, the PRO for packaging and paper products in Quebec, provided funding for PSI to track the impacts of the virus on U.S. recycling programs. PSI found that, although many states deemed recycling an essential public service or a critical piece of manufacturing for high-demand items such as toilet paper and shipping boxes, dozens of local programs were put on pause due to staffing shortages and health concerns. Furthermore, commercial and bottle deposit materials decreased dramatically, while residentially generated trash and recycling volumes sharply increased, with notable impacts to the recycling supply chain

table1

Though “Essential,” Recycling Suspended in Many Communities

Beginning in March, at least 40 states issued stay-at-home orders that closed all non-essential businesses and directed residents to stay inside for several weeks or more. At least 10 of these states specifically named recycling on lists of essential services, while most others allowed recycling to continue as either public works services or critical manufacturing. Unfortunately, dozens of curbside and drop-off recycling programs were still suspended; many remain on hold as of early June. Residents were frequently instructed to comingle recyclables with trash for curbside collection, while some programs offered the option to store materials at home until services resumed. The largest municipal programs impacted by the pandemic were Miami, FL, where residents were instructed to comingle materials with trash; Los Angeles, CA, where at least half of curbside materials collected were diverted to landfill; and Philadelphia, PA, where curbside collection was suspended for a week and then scaled back to bi-weekly to accommodate staffing shortages. In some jurisdictions, curbside recycling materials were diverted to waste-to-energy plants.

Safety the Priority, but PPE in Short Supply

set of medical protective face masks

Consensus emerged within the medical community that handling waste and recyclables does not pose a significant transmission risk to workers, provided employee safety is prioritized with adequate social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves and sometimes gowns or face shields. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), ISRI, and the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) all issued guidance on best practices for worker safety.

In late March, NWRA wrote to the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that waste and recycling workers receive priority access to PPE,  but waste and recycling collectors across the country still experienced PPE shortages. Some programs turned to creative solutions to procure PPE for employees, such as the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) in Vermont, which purchased washable cloth masks for all staff online. In Swanzey, NH, residents worked together to create cloth masks for sanitation workers.

Residential Volumes Up, Commercial Volumes Down

Haulers experienced significant increases in residential trash and recycling volumes in nearly every state – sometimes up 40% from average amounts. Many operators cited an increase in spring cleaning as a contributing factor, in addition to people simply generating more of their waste at home. With reduced staffing and increased generation, municipal programs struggled to keep up. At the same time, haulers saw an unprecedented decline in commercially generated waste as businesses closed their doors.

Bottle Bill Programs Almost Universally Interrupted

open grey metal soda can

Nine out of the ten U.S. states with bottle deposit bills temporarily suspended their programs to some degree. Most announced periods of non-enforcement, which, combined with a general decrease in people spending time outside, effectively shuttered the programs. Even where programs remained open, grocery stores and drop-off facilities often stopped accepting containers for redemption, and many residents simply began storing bottles and cans at home.

The Result: Major Supply Chain Impacts

Lack of commercial and bottle deposit materials, coupled with the steep increase in residential volumes, caused major shifts in the recycling supply chain. Because commercial materials and deposit containers are typically less contaminated than residential materials, they comprise the primary feedstock for packaging remanufacturing in the U.S. For example, roughly 40% of recycled aluminum and 60% of cullet used to manufacture cans, bottles, and jars in the U.S. comes from deposit programs.

Meanwhile, residential materials tend to be shipped to end markets for durable goods, such as automotive manufacturing. During the height of state shut-downs, demand all but ended for durable goods manufacturing while packaging demand spiked with the increase in packaged food, beverage, and cleaning supply sales. To remain operational, packaging manufacturers began accepting curbside-collected materials as feedstock. For example, CarbonLite, a major bottle-to-bottle recycler that normally relies exclusively on PET recovered through the bottle deposit system for its California facility, reported obtaining 60% of its feedstock from residential curbside sources.

table2

The China Sword and the Pandemic Together Create Financial Woes

Long-term financial impacts of the coronavirus on U.S. recycling programs are uncertain. Municipalities were already facing increased recycling costs due to the lingering impacts of the China Sword policy. Now, these cost increases are exacerbated by potential rate adjustments due to spiking residential volumes and a continued decline in end markets for recycled materials, especially plastics. In a hopeful turn, however, municipal programs began to reopen around the country in late April, and have continued to reopen ever since.

Photos by Karolina Grabowska, Pexels.com


 

sydney_2020

Sydney Harris, PSI

COVID-19 has impacted the recycling industry and product stewardship community in many ways. While some entities are innovating to ensure environmental protection, others are abusing the situation to push single-use plastics.

PSI’s efforts to track the impacts on plastics use has gained the attention of Vice News, and we are also tracking impacts and new best practices for other products, such as electronics, HHW, and more. Share your experience — take our survey to help us better understand the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. product stewardship programs.