Oct 5 - New California Recycling Laws Tackle Used Paint and Carpet

Share Despite diminished state and local budgets for new environmental programs, California policy makers have found a way to increase recycling of problem products: make the manufacturers pay.

Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills aimed at increasing the recycling of used carpet and leftover paint, and making manufacturers responsible for the cost.

AB 2398 by California Assembly Speaker John Perez, will require manufacturers and distributors of new carpet sold in the state to develop, implement and finance a program to provide for the recycling of old carpet. The measure requires manufactures to pay at least 5 cents per square yard of new carpet sold to help finance the program.

Carpet is a significant waste problem comprising 3.2% of all waste disposed in California, but it also represents a tremendous recycling opportunity. Most carpet is made from petroleum, generating a large greenhouse gas footprint. Recycling this material would save over 9 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, while reducing landfill disposal.

"More than 1.3 million tons of old carpets and rugs are sent to landfill every year," said Speaker Perez. "I introduced AB 2398 because keeping that enormous amount of materials out of landfills and reusing them instead will significantly improve sustainability in the carpet industry while promoting the growth of green jobs."

AB 1343 by Assembly Member Jared Huffman, will require manufacturers and retailers of paint sold in the state to develop, implement and finance a convenient program for paint recycling.

Used paint is the largest source of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) generated in California, representing 35% of the HHW volume collected by local governments. In 2008, over 26 million gallons of paint were collected in California, costing local governments over $27 million. Local governments have no choice but to bear the high cost because paint is prohibited from disposal in California solid waste landfills.

"Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of this prohibition, and paint ends up in our landfills and waterways. As a result, state and local governments, as well as other entities, spend millions of dollars managing leftover paint," said Assembly Member Huffman. "AB 1343 addresses this problem by creating a used paint collection, recycling and proper disposal program."

AB 1343 was sponsored by the environmental group Californians Against Waste and ultimately supported by paint manufacturers.

"California consumers will see increased opportunities to recycle old carpets and left-over paint, and the environment will benefit from reduced illegal dumping," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste.