On Monday, November 24, reps from several Vermont solid waste districts announced they were creating the Vermont Product Stewardship Council. In a nutshell, the council plans to work with nonprofits, consumers, businesses, the Association of Vermont Recyclers and the Agency of Natural Resources to "reduce waste and bring good public policy to the materials management industry."
A link to the council's October 6 "Letter of Agreement" doesn't outline any specific legislative priorities, but a related page notes that the council supports policies geared toward promoting "extended producer responsibility." According to the council, EPR ensures that "product manufacturers assume primary responsibility for their products throughout the entire life cycles of the products -- from material selection to recovery and recycling."
In other words: The council wants Vermont manufacturers to take more responsibility for the stuff they produce. The council's site references a piece of draft EPR legislation in Oregon -- is a similar Vermont bill in the works? Council chair Jen Holliday, who works for the Chittenden Solid Waste District, says, effectively, not yet.
"I don't really see Vermont being one of the first states to pass this legislation," Holliday tells Seven Days, "but I think if we can get a few EPR bills through . . . the concept will be embraced, and the framework [legislation] will be easier to get passed in the next year or two. For now, we'll be working on product-specific legislation, but keeping an eye on what's happening on other parts of the county."
As Vermont's next legislative session approaches, Holliday notes, the Vermont Product Stewardship Council is mulling over a couple of options. Among them: Helping draft a bill addressing mercury in lamps or working on S.256, an "e-waste" bill introduced last session by Sens. Claire Ayer (D-Addison) and Virginia "Ginny" Lyons (D-Chittenden). (That bill, incidentally, attracted criticism from officials in, of all places, China.)
Meanwhile, for more info on how forward-thinking waste-reduction strategies are being explored at the municipal level in the Green Mountains, check out my April 16 Seven Days feature, "Long Haul."