What are Extended Producer Responsibility and Product Stewardship?Product Stewardship is the act of minimizing the health, safety, environmental, and social impacts of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages, while also maximizing economic benefits. The manufacturer, or producer, of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders, such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers, also play a role. Stewardship can be either voluntary or required by law.
Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, is a mandatory type of product stewardship required by law. It includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the manufacturer's responsibility for its product extends to post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. There are two related features of EPR policy: (1) shifting end-of-life-financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the manufacturer and away from the public sector, and (2) providing incentives to manufacturers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.
EPR levels the playing field among competitors and incentivizes environmentally conscious design. Connecticut's first EPR law, for electronic waste (or "e-waste"), was passed in 2007. Subsequently, EPR laws have been passed for paint (2011), mattresses (2013), mercury thermostats (2014), gas cylinders (2022), and tires (2023). EPR is an integral strategy in Connecticut's statewide solid waste management plan, also known as the Connecticut Materials Management Strategy.
PaintOil-based paint is one of the most common materials brought into household hazardous waste (HHW) collections. Before EPR, it was also the costliest item to dispose. HHW collections are expensive, and municipalities rely on tax dollars to pay for these collections. Latex paint was not accepted at HHW events and residents were directed to dry the paint out and place it in the garbage. In 2003, Connecticut joined with other states and local governments in a dialogue with the paint industry, facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute. As a result of the dialogue, the paint manufacturers agreed to a model EPR bill. Connecticut passed that bill in 2011. When customers purchase paint in Connecticut, there is a fee assessed which is remitted to the paint stewardship organization called Paintcare. This fee does not go to the state. Rather, the revenues are used to provide free and convenient collection of residential paint and stain through participating retailers, transfer stations and HHW collections. Connecticut typically collects around 400,000 gallons of paint annually, the majority of which is latex. Connecticut's Paint Stewardship Law
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List of Registered Brands If a brand is not on this list, retailers may not sell that brand of paint.
Mattresses are expensive to manage for both disposal and recycling. They are bulky and relatively light-weight. The coils can entangle processing equipment and it is labor intensive to recycle mattresses. In 2011, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass an EPR law for mattresses. The program went into effect in May of 2015. Municipalities now have the ability to opt in to the mattress stewardship program and no longer have to bear the cost of disposing or recycling of mattresses brought in to transfer stations.
The mattress EPR program is run by the stewardship organization Mattress Recycling Council (MRC). MRC is responsible for managing mattresses from participating municipalities. The MRC assesses a fee if $11.75 for each mattress and boxspring purchased in Connecticut, which is used to finance the transportation and processing of discarded mattresses.
Since its inception, the mattress EPR program typically processes more than 200,000 mattresses per year, saving millions of dollars in disposal fees for municipalities. There are two recyclers located in Connecticut participating in the program, one in Bridgeport and the other in Windham.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is defined in Connecticut as computers, monitors, printers, and televisions. The EPR law for e-waste passed in 2007 and was modified in 2008. Regulations guiding the program were adopted in 2011 and the program began after adoption. The e-waste program is different than other EPR programs in that there is no stewardship organization. Instead, manufacturers register with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and pay approved recyclers to collect, transport and process covered devices from municipalities. Municipalities collect devisces from residents through transfer stations or collection events.
In 2002, Connecticut joined with other northeast states to pass comprehensive mercury reduction laws. The Mercury Education and Reduction Act prohibited the sale of most products containing mercury, including thermostats. Connecticut was the first state in the country to ban the sale of mercury thermostats in 2004. Since there were countless mercury thermostats in service at the time, and the working life of a mercury thermostat is up to 40 years or more, many that were in service needed to be collected. In 2012, Connecticut passed an EPR law for thermostats which requires wholesalers that sell any type of thermostat to participate in an industry-sponsored collection program for mercury thermostats. The collection program is open to all residents of Connecticut and recycling is free of charge.
Connecticut's EPR law for gas cylinders passed in 2022. It is the first gas cylinder EPR law in the country. Gas cylinders can be difficult to recycle due to the residual gas and pressure. Certain cylinders can be reused many times before they can be recycled. Others are designed for single use. The gas cylinder EPR law is designed to increase reuse and recycling and shift the primary financial responsibility from the municipalities to manufacturers. Manufacturers will submit a plan to the department in the summer of 2023 indicating how they intend to collect cylinders. The program is expected to be underway in the spring of 2024.
Information for Gas Cylinder Manufacturers
Proposed Gas Cylinder Stewardship Plans
The department is requesting public comment on stewardship plans submitted in accordance with Section 22a-905h of the Connecticut General Statutes. These plans outline the collection, transportation, and processing of gas cylinders. Please submit any comments to DEEP.MMCAPlanning@ct.gov by August 11, 2023.
The requirements for the plans can be found here.
Illegal tire dumping has been a persistent problem for municipalities and the state. Some garages and retailers that generate used tires may illegally dump tires to avoid disposal fees. Some residents, wishing to avoid disposal fees at the transfer station, may dump one to four tires illegally. In addition, municipal transfer stations are experiencing increased costs associated with managing discarded tires from residents. Tire EPR is Connecticut's newest EPR program, which passed in 2023 and is the first in the nation of its kind. The program is expected to being in 2025. When manufacturers assume responsibility for managing tires at the end of life, generators of used tires will no longer have to pay for disposal or recycling, therefore eliminating the primary incentive for illegal dumping. Towns and residents will save money by no longer having to pay for tire disposal. In addition, EPR will provide an incentive for tire manufacturers and recyclers to look at developing new markets for tires.
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The Connecticut Product Stewardship Council is open to anyone interested in supporting EPR initiatives. Membership is free and open to the public.
Content last updated July 10, 2023