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Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

NWF Resolution Concerning Solid Waste

For submission to the National Wildlife Federation at it's annual meeting: An NWF Resolution Concerning the Prevention and Reduction of Packaging Waste to the Municipal Solid Waste Stream

Pub Date: 
Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Whereas, according to the EPA's Summary of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), containers and packaging are the largest part of the waste stream at 32.2%, and 39% of containers and packaging are recovered/recycled/reused, and
Whereas, the 11.2% of the packaging waste stream that are plastic containers have a recycling rate of only 8.9% and plastics overall, which are 10.7% of the waste stream, have a recycling rate of only 5.4%, one of the lowest of any component of the waste stream, and
Whereas, most recycling programs collect only #1 (PETE) and #2 (HDPE) plastic bottles, while plastics labeled #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7 are widely considered to be recyclable yet lack viable markets for processing and recycling, therefore, misleading the public into believing that they are recyclable, and
Whereas, plastic packaging materials, especially film plastics, can be deadly to wildlife, particularly marine mammals and birds, and
Whereas, communities all across the country are generating more solid waste each year and having to absorb the increasing costs of collection and disposal, burdening taxpayers and municipal budgets, and
Whereas, the anaerobic decomposition of the organic component of Municipal Solid Waste disposed of in landfills produces Greenhouse Gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, and that incineration of waste is known to produce dioxin, contributes heavy metals to the incinerator’s ash and air emissions, and releases hydrochloric acid, which contributes to acid rain, and the transportation of solid waste requires the combustion of fossil fuels, producing the oxides of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, and
Whereas, source reduction is generally the best approach to a pollution problem and limited economic incentives exist to encourage manufacturers to design packages for recyclability or reduce packaging waste, and
Whereas, other countries, including Canada, Japan, Korea, Germany and other members of the European Union, have regulations restricting plastic and other packaging and that U.S. corporations have managed to comply, thus making it possible for U.S. corporations to comply with such guidelines in this country,

Therefore, the National Wildlife Federation supports:

  • The creation of a national manufacturer/producer responsibility program focused on reducing the amount of packaging created.
  • The restriction of packaging and packaging materials to readily recyclable materials.
  • The labeling of materials as recyclable only when viable recycling programs, markets and facilities are available.
  • Lifetime responsibility of products and packages for the lifecycle of a product by the producers which includes resources for both municipalities and private businesses so as to support a comprehensive packaging waste reduction and recycling program designed to maximize the recovery and recycling of packaging.
  • A reduction in packaging and minimization of the generation of Greenhouse Gas emissions from solid waste disposal.