The Vermont Product Stewardship Council (VTPSC) recently celebrated its anniversary and a decade of impressive accomplishments. The group was founded in September 2008 by Vermont local governments, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), and Upstream to jointly solve problems related to the management of problematic consumer products and packaging.
VTPSC’s successes include the passage of five of the state’s eight “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) laws, including those for primary batteries (Act 139), electronics (Act 79), paint (Act 58), mercury lamps (Act 36), and thermostats (Act 149). EPR laws require product manufacturers to finance and manage the recycling or safe disposal of their products when consumers are done with them, taking the burden off taxpayers and governments.
Vermont leads the nation in per capita collection rates for many of these products, recycling or safely disposing of millions of pounds of material and creating recycling jobs throughout the state and the northeast. This year, the group is turning its attention to household hazardous waste and packaging.
The Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District (LRSWMD) has been a member of the Vermont Product Stewardship Council from the start. “The EPR programs spearheaded by this organization have drastically reduced the cost of managing these products for the LRSWMD. The convenience factor for our residents to reuse and recycle difficult to manage special wastes, i.e. electronics, fluorescent bulbs, thermostats, and especially paint, cannot be overstated,” said Joyce Majors, LRSWMD’s Operations Administrator. “We look forward to continuing our membership with VTPSC and helping to pass additional EPR laws for the people of Vermont.”
Jennifer Holliday, Founder and Chair of VTPSC and Director of Public Policy and Diversion Facilities for the Chittenden Solid Waste District, estimates that EPR laws are saving local governments and taxpayers millions of dollars statewide. “The strong EPR laws we’ve passed in Vermont really make a difference for our residents and the environment. None of it would have been possible without the support of forward-thinking legislators who saw beyond the challenges that always lie in the path of progress.”
PSI provides ongoing technical assistance to the group and facilitates group meetings. “It’s powerful when local governments unify and collaborate with state agencies and businesses to jointly solve problems that reduce waste,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of PSI. “The Vermont PSC is a national leader and model for effective government that has saved money for its taxpayers while reducing waste and creating jobs.”