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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Product Stewardship endorsed by Sonoma County

SHARE Responsibility 
for Products
Waste, toxics reduction will protect taxpayers and ratepayers

Last month, the Cloverdale City Council adopted a resolution supporting Product Stewardship, making Sonoma the first county in California in which all of the incorporated cities, the county board of supervisors and the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA) have formally supported Product Stewardship policy. Product Stewardship is a policy approach that requires product manufacturers to share in the responsibility for end-of-life management for the products they produce.

Cloverdale was the 108th local government to pass a resolution in support of product stewardship, including neighboring counties of Napa, Marin and Mendocino and cities statewide including Roseville, Eureka, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Burbank, as well as national organizations including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and statewide organizations including the California League of Cities, the Regional Council of Rural Counties - all calling for product stewardship legislation. For a full list of supporting jurisdictions, go to .

Sonoma County spends more than $100,000 each month managing household hazardous waste (HHW) generated by residents of Cotati, Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Windsor and the unincorporated County. Sonoma County, like many counties in California, struggles to balance the increase in demand for products banned from landfills against falling HHW operating budgets.

Although the State of California has banned hazardous and problematic products from disposal such as household batteries, fluorescent lamps, paint and sharps (needles and lancets) from landfills, there is no sustainably funded collection system for these products. Ultimately, that means costs have been externalized onto taxpayers and ratepayers to manage these products.

Product Stewardship uses the free market forces to incentivize producers to fully fund management of their products and packaging waste by designing more durable, less toxic products that are easier to repair and recycle. When producers develop, fund and manage “take-back” programs, they can achieve economies of scale that reduce recycling costs and ensure that products are managed from “cradle to cradle” versus “cradle to grave,” with no additional cost charged to manage the product at end-of-life.

The California Product Stewardship Council is a not-for-profit, non government agency dedicated to shifting California’s product waste management system from one focused on government funded and ratepayer financed waste diversion to one that relies on producer responsibility. CPSC is working toward this goal to reduce public costs and drive improvements in product design.

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