From Green Right Now Reports

Trash. Turns out no one wants it.

This week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) adopted a resolution that attempts to heave off some of the crushing load of waste that American consumers and manufacturers are generating.

Landfill (Photo: Ropable, Wikimedia Commons)

The mayors, meeting in Oklahoma City for their annual conference, called for state and federal lawmakers to enact laws that shift the costs of managing difficult and toxic waste and packaging away from cities and taxpayers. Who should take responsiblity? The makers of these consumer goods.

The resolution was based on a model developed by the Product Policy Institute (PPI) that has already been adopted many localities in California, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas.

“Product Policy Institute has been working with governments for seven years to find solutions to the mounting burden of product and packaging waste facing communities,” said Product Policy Institute Executive Director Bill Sheehan in a news release. “Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors planted their flag in the waste pile and said, “no more.”  They asked product manufacturers to take primary responsibility for their toxic and non-recyclable products.  We’re proud of their leadership on this pressing issue.”

USCM represents cities with populations of 30,000 or more.  The packaging resolution’s lead sponsor was Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento, Calif., which adopted a similar resolution in 2009.

“Local governments are in serious financial trouble and can better use resources currently going to manage waste products like batteries, needles and fluorescent lamps to fund police, fire and basic public health services,” said Mayor Cabaldon.  “We need manufacturers to take responsibility for what they make, not leave it to the taxpayers and ratepayers to clean-up the mess at very high costs.”

The devil’s in the details, of course. But several states and European nations have had some success in requiring producers to manage their waste and “end products” with laws that require computer manufacturers, for instance, to handle the deconstruction and disposal of defunct equipment.

“Taxpayers and garbage ratepayers have hit their limit and so have our landfills!, said Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the California Product Stewardship Council. “Requiring producers of problem products like batteries and fluorescent lamps to pay for their recovery, utilizes free-market competitive forces to drive down recycling costs and creates jobs in the private sector, not in the public sector.”

For more information on this movement or “Extended Producer Responsibility” see the Product Policy Institute’s webpage on responsiblity resolutions.