Grantee Blog

Paint the town red...and have manufacturers take back the can

From Overbrook-grantee Product Stewardship Institute:

The Colorado State Legislature voted on April 15 to enact a bill requiring paint manufacturers to fund and operate a statewide post-consumer paint take-back program. The bill, SB 14-029, ensures the environmentally responsible end-of-life management of leftover paint throughout the State of Colorado, while shifting the managerial and financial burden away from the state and local governments. It will now go to Governor John Hickenlooper to sign into law.

Once signed, SB 14-029 will make Colorado the eighth state in the nation to implement an extended producer responsibility (EPR) law for leftover paint. The bill is based on a model program developed through a multi-stakeholder dialogue that PSI facilitated. In 2010, Oregon became the first state to roll out a leftover paint collection and recycling program based on this model, followed by California in 2012 and, most recently, Connecticut in 2013. Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota and Maine are expected to implement paint stewardship programs this year; in fact, Vermont is on track to launch May 1st.

PaintCare, Inc. - the nonprofit organization established by the American Coatings Association, which represents paint manufacturers - will fund and oversee the implementation of Colorado's program, as it has done and will do for the other states. The source of this funding will be a small point-of-sale paint recovery fee that consumers pay to retailers. The retailers will then pass along the funds to manufacturers, which will in turn funnel them into PaintCare to manage the entire take-back program, including collection, transportation, recycling, public outreach, and administration. All architectural paint manufacturers that sell their products in Colorado will be required to register with the PaintCare program.

Colorado's embrace of SB 14-029 is great news for the product stewardship movement, as it represents a growing acceptance and understanding of EPR as a sustainable materials management solution - one that saves taxpayer dollars, creates new 'green' jobs, and helps protect the environment.

Connecticut Awards $180,000 to the Product Stewardship Institute!

Connecticut, one of the currently 32 states nationwide that have adopted some form of product and producer responsibility legislation, has entered into a three-year partnership with Overbrook-grantee Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) to develop policies for placing responsibility on the manufacturers of certain products to safely dispose of or recycle the products at the end of their useful life. The products at issue, which include carpeting, batteries, packaging, and fertilizers, all have potentially harmful byproducts and environmental effects, and the disposal costs of which currently fall on taxpayers.

Check out more about the exciting new partnership here!

Clan of the Cave Peccaries

The below is an excerpt from a press release by Overbrook-supported Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which describes how cave paintings dating over 4,000 years ago were discovered while researching the life and habitat of the white-lipped peccary in Brazil. The discovery underscores the inextricable relationship between natural ecosystems and cultural heritage. And not to mention, is just really cool.

Assortment of Fauna

You can read the full release here.

"While tracking white-lipped peccaries and gathering environmental data in forests that link Brazil’s Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and a local partner NGO, Instituto Quinta do Sol, discovered ancient cave drawings made by hunter-gatherer societies thousands of years ago

The discovery was first made on Brazil’s Cerrado plateau in 2009, when Keuroghlian and her team were conducting surveys of white-lipped peccaries, herd-forming pig-like animals that travel long distances and are environmental indicators of healthy forests. While following signals from radio-collared white-lipped peccaries and the foraging trails of peccary herds, the team encountered a series of prominent sandstone formations with caves containing drawings of animals and geometric figures.

 Keuroghlian contacted Aguiar, a regional specialist in cave drawings who determined that the drawings were made between 4,000–10,000 years ago by hunter-gatherer societies that either occupied the caves, or used them specifically for their artistic activities. The style of some drawings, Aguiar noted, was consistent with what archeologists call the Planalto (central Brazilian plateau) tradition, while others, surprisingly, were more similar to Nordeste (northeastern Brazil) or Agreste (forest to arid-land transition in NE Brazil) style drawings. The drawings depict an assemblage of animals including armadillos, deer, large cats, birds, and reptiles, as well as human-like figures and geometric symbols. Oddly, the subject of the WCS surveys in the area—peccaries—are absent from the illustrations. Aguiar hopes to conduct cave floor excavations and geological dating at the sites in order to fully interpret the drawings."

Soon you can bike down to the Heartbreak Hotel

The "sharing economy" continues to expand in new and exciting ways, and the Hampline in Memphis, Tennessee project is a great example.

The Hampline is a protected bike lane connecting Overton Park and Shelby Farms Greenline in Memphis, part of the national Bikes Belong Green Lane Project. It will include two-way protected lanes lined with public art, and it's thought to be the most innovative bicycle infrastructure ever to be built in the U.S.

Hampline Visualization

Apart from increasing greenspace and decreasing traffic, the Hampline represents another step in the evolution of participatory democracy and local decision-making: crowd-sourced civic infrastructure. Livable Memphis, Broad Ave Arts District, and the Binghampton CDC led a coalition of dozens of community groups came together and raised almost 95% of the $4.5 million for project, and now ioby is working to help crowd-source the rest.

Some may argue - rightly or wrongly - that a public infrastructure project is the provenance of municipal or regional governments, or that government should not be absolved of or shunt responsibility for providing public spaces and civic goods. It is true that, in the era of belt-tightening and innovations in funding mechanisms, finding an appropriate balance will be work.

But one should also view the Hampline through the hopeful looking-glass. Non-profits and community-based organizations - who are often marginalized in decision-making, budgets, and in the media - worked together to achieve something tangible, concrete, and of value to wider Memphis metropolis. It is also a taking back of control and a giving of a sense of empowerment. Increasing local and truly inclusive decision-making is a valuable goal, one that even The King should be proud is happening in his hometown. And, biking will certainly help burn off some of his fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches!

Mmm...We're Lovin' It!

From our grantee, As You Sow:

After significant engagement with As You Sow, McDonald's Corp. has confirmed that it will replace its polystyrene foam hot beverage cups with paper cups at all 14,000 U.S. restaurants. This welcome action comes in response to its 2011 shareholder proposal asking the company to use more environmentally beneficial materials for beverage containers and to set recycled content and post-consumer cup recovery goals. Nearly 30% of shareholder votes supported its proposal.  In 2012, after dialogue with As You Sow, the company unveiled a pilot program replacing foam with paper cups at 2,000 West Coast locations. The company has confirmed the pilot was successful and that it will be transitioning to double-walled paper cups.

The company’s decision to stop using foam beverage cups will reduce the threat of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans and provide a more recyclable, valuable alternative in paper fiber.  McDonald’s has made a decent start by phasing out foam but needs to go further and incorporate recycled fiber in their cups as Starbucks has and develop on-site systems to collect and recycle food service packaging as Pret A Manger has.

 As You Sow is also in dialogue with Dunkin’ Donuts, which uses foam hot beverage cups.  Dunkin’ recently announced plans to phase out foam cups in two to three years but has not disclosed what materials it will use instead.

More information on As You Sow's dialogue with McDonald’s is available here; a press release issued today on the company’s action is here.

New York City just got a little Greener

Yesterday, Urban Green and advocates of green buildings in New York City had a new reason to celebrate: the City Council passed five more of the Building Resiliency Task Force proposals into law:

BRTF #8: Prevent Sewage Backflow BRTF #10: Clarify Construction Requirements in Flood Zones BRTF #12: Analyze Wind Risks BRTF #13: Capture Stormwater to Prevent Flooding BRTF #24: Ensure Toilets & Sinks Work Without Power

This steps are critical to ensuring New York is better equipped to withstand climate change's increasingly severe effects.

You can follow the status of the remaining Task Force proposals on Urban Green's Proposal Tracker, or read more about on its blog. And if you can't get enough - think about attending its Resiliency Conference next Monday!