Product Policy Institute  [Printer-friendly version]
February 20, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The City of San Francisco, California, has
taken steps to create a new city policy -- "extended producer
responsibility" (EPR) -- requiring manufacturers to take
responsibility for collecting and recycling their products at the end
of their useful life.]

ATHENS, GA -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Feb. 14
unanimously adopted a resolution requesting that state government
require manufacturers to take responsibility for collecting and
recycling their products at the end of their useful life. This is
called "extended producer responsibility" (EPR) and it represents
one kind of precautionary action that states and communities can take
to protect their future.

The San Francisco resolution also orders the city Department of
Environment to develop policies for "extended producer responsibility"
(EPR) and to develop EPR language to be inserted into city contracts.

The resolution signals a fundamental shift in thinking among local
governments, which have accepted responsibility for collection and
disposal of discards (municipal waste) for more than a century.

"This is the strongest statement yet from a local government in the
United States," says Bill Sheehan, director of the Athens, GA-based
Product Policy Institute. "San Francisco and other local governments
are fed up with footing the bill for picking up after producers of
toxic and disposable consumer products."

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) resolution, sponsored by
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, asks the state to take the financial burden
of disposing toxic products off of taxpayers and onto manufacturers.
"Producer responsibility legislation makes sense. Taxpayers and local
governments shell out millions in dollars every year to handle toxic
and other products," explains Supervisor Mirkarimi. "It's time we push
corporations to take responsibility of their own actions and

As the San Francisco resolution puts it: "By covering the costs of
collection and disposal, local governments are subsidizing the
production of waste because manufacturers know that whatever they
produce the local government will foot the bill for recycling or

The resolution comes on the heels of a newly enacted state regulation
that bans a wide range of common household hazardous waste products
from the trash.

"Government purchasing is a good place for municipalities to
immediately start implementing producer responsibility requirements,"
said Alicia Culver, director of EnviroSpec, a green purchasing
organization based in Berkeley, CA. "If companies want to secure
contracts with government agencies, they will increasingly need to
have plans in place to provide recycling for their products once the
products reach the end of their useful life," Culver added.

The Product Policy Institute has been assisting San Francisco and
other California communities develop policies and programs that
conserve resources and reduce local taxes by transferring
responsibility for product discard management back to the makers of
products and their customers.