Pushing manufacturers to take responsibility for the waste they generated

In an Oct. 25, 2018 article, Waste 360 interviewed former executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) Heidi Sanborn, who now leads the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), about her plans to "drive a circular economy beyond California, one state at a time."

"What I learned as [CPSC] grew is how to approach industries to partner on reducing waste from their products. But they learned from us, too, I think, mainly that we will negotiate fairly if someone reaches a hand out to work with us. It makes more sense to work with industry than to work against them, but we need a willing party to negotiate with.
My team and I will support any state or local government or industry in reducing waste and closing the loop on their products... partnering with them and promoting their brand if they voluntarily employ greener designs or takeback programs or working collaboratively on bills that would do the same.
But with manufacturers, if they refuse to work with us, what they run into is that local governments—at least those that have taken action—are now clear on their authority to mandate producers to pay for their waste stream. They can do this with or without state or federal government support.
We are going up the product chain to designers and manufacturers and saying, “We cannot manage everything you are sending through the market. How can you help us close the loop?” That’s a fairly new conversation in the U.S.
We have been viewed by some as a threat. But I think those that reduce waste from their products and take them back for recycling will do better financially and have less regulation than the laggards. We have supported and partnered with industry leaders and legislated when we see laggards—the only thing off the table is the “do nothing” option."

Sanborn favorably cited Walgreens, the first large chain retailer to take back medications in their stores, as well as Flame King in Los Angeles for redesigning one-pound propane gas cylinders to be refillable. CPSC promoted refillables and designed a campaign to educate the public on where to buy and refill cylinders. Now there are more than 700 retailers when there were none four years ago.