Welcome to module 4. My overall goals are twofold. First, I'd like you to understand extended producer responsibility as a solution to promote better stewardship of environmental resources. Second, I want you to understand greenwashing. First, I'm going to provide you with some context about America's waste and recycling challenges. Second, I'd like to give you a brief introduction to the idea of product stewardship. Third, I'm going to focus on the idea of extended producer responsibility and other new initiatives to promote better product stewardship. Finally, we're going to talk about greenwashing. First, I'd like to provide you with a bit of context about the US waste and recycling stream. So this chart which comes from the Environmental Protection Agency shows us by material the total amount of municipal solid waste generated in 2018. 292.4 million tons is no small amount of trash. The biggest component of this clearly is paper and paperboard, followed by plastics and food, as well as other sources like yard trimmings, metals, and glass. But paper, plastics, and food are really the biggest of the three. What is actually going into landfills, it's slightly different. Paper and paperboard are not the largest component here, instead food and plastics are. As you can see, the amount of material going into landfills all the way going back to 1960 through 2018 has increased by more than 50 million tons, and you can see from the different colors that the amount of paper and paperboard is going down, the amount of food is going up, and the amount of plastics in yellow is going up. Keep that in mind because we are going to be focusing today a lot on plastics. What's being recycled? Not surprisingly, paper and paperboard is about two-thirds of what's being recycled in the United States. Despite the fact that we all throw our single-use plastic containers and glass jars and bottles into the recycling bins, in fact, plastics and glass each constitute less than five percent of the materials that we recycle in the United States. This chart shows us how municipal solid waste is managed in the United States and how that's changed over time from 1960 to 2018. What I take from reading this chart, is that recycling is growing but so is landfilling. So we need to be looking with open eyes at the way in which we manage our waste products. The US recycling stream is also changing. As you can see here, paper and paperboard in blue really dwarf everything else in terms of what is recycled in the United States. The yellow wedge of plastics, even though it's grown a little bit, is really very small, as is the orange wedge that represents glass. When we think about how we manage our waste, there's a hierarchy of waste management. At the top, the ideal is source reduction, don't use it in the first place. One step below that is recycling, if you use it, make sure to use it again. Third, would be energy recovery, something like burning a material in order to capture the heat to power other processes. Treatment and disposal are at the very bottom. I want to take a moment now to focus on plastics. When we think about plastics, think about all the plastics that you use in a day or a week, bottles, jars, containers, as well as things that maybe you don't think about using in the traditional sense , but plastic packaging. Plastics also are part of durable goods like appliances and furniture, and plastics can be part of non-durable goods, like disposable diapers or trash bags, disposable cups, medical devices, and other household items. How has plastics waste management changed over this period from 1960 to 2018? You can see that there has been an increase in the amount of plastics that are recycled on a year-by-year basis. Composting in yellow is virtually invisible. Combustion with energy recovery, burning it in order to get energy from the heat that is produced, has increased. But by far more than anything else, plastics end up in landfills. The data are actually quite striking. In the year 2018, the last year for which the EPA provides data, only 8.7 percent of plastics produced were recycled, about three million tons. In that same year, 18.5 percent of all municipal solid waste landfilled was plastic, 27 million tons. So the ratio of what's recycled to what's put into landfills is really quite striking. What are some of the main challenges when we think about plastic waste? First, there can be a real lack of an end market. Only in the past several years did countries like the United States and Japan stop selling their waste plastic to developing nations including China. Second, there's a lack of technology. There are many different types of plastic resins that go into products. In some cases, products are made from a single resin or a single type of plastic, and in other cases, products contain multiple different types of plastic. The recycling industry focuses almost exclusively on four types of plastic which are easiest to recycle. There are really only two primary methods of plastics recycling: mechanical and chemical. Third, there are too many types of plastics to have a very clear recycling program. In the US market, there are more than a dozen different types of plastics. Each one has its own melting point. Each one has its own manufacturing requirements. If, as I mentioned, the same product has many different types of plastics incorporated into it, it can be extremely difficult to recycle. Finally, there is competition against the petrochemical industry. It is very inexpensive to make new plastic from virgin oil and other fossil fuel feedstocks and discard it and simply purchase new plastic again, rather than purchasing recycled plastic, which is not always cost-competitive. For a while, arguably, the fact that the United States was not good at recycling plastic was actually quite good for China. In China in the 1990s, there was an increasing annual demand for plastics because of rapid economic development. In China, there was a lack of domestic raw materials and production capacity, as well as no efficient recycling system in place to handle domestic plastics recycling. Combine that with rising crude oil prices which made virgin plastic more expensive, waste plastic became relatively cheap in comparison to virgin plastic in that period of time. It was very easy to ship waste plastic from the United States, the EU, Japan, and elsewhere to China, and it could then be repurposed into higher-quality material for sale in the Chinese market, or for export, or to be used as a cheap fuel source. But in the 2017/2018 time frame, China imposed a ban on the importation of plastics. Now just to give you a sense of scale, 70 percent of US plastic waste was going to China at that time, 95 percent of the EU's plastic waste collected for recycling was sent to China for processing. So this was a huge blow to the United States and the EU in terms of what to do with its plastic that had been collected for recycling. Why did China decide to ban the import of plastics for recycling? There were really four primary reasons. First, there was what's known as increased contamination. So some communities have single-stream recycling, and others have multiple streams. In multiple stream recycling, consumers are responsible for sorting paper from plastic, from glass, etc. But with the growth of single-stream recycling which is much easier for the consumer, there was an increase in contamination. People don't necessarily rinse their plastic jugs before putting them in the recycling stream. Second, increased complexity. Plastics and packaging had become more complex, there were more colors, more additives, and more mixed resins, which made it very difficult to process these materials for recycling. Third, China was at this point beginning to produce enough of its own plastic waste and had better manufacturing infrastructure such that it didn't need the plastic recycling tonnage from the United States and the EU for its market. Then finally, there were internal and external political reasons why China decided to adopt this ban, including the idea that China wanted to focus more on high-tech industries rather than heavily polluting industries like plastics recycling, especially when there was a tremendous amount of press about its air quality. What happened as a result of the ban? This chart shows historical plastic waste as well as the dotted line projected plastic waste. Once the ban was in place, approximately 111 million metric tons of plastic waste were displaced. They could no longer be sent to China, but the capacity in the United States was insufficient to handle it. A second aspect of the complexity in the recycling problem is the limited ability to recycle different types of plastics, as well as the mixing of plastics in different products. You all are likely to be familiar with the chasing arrows symbol surrounding a number that you can see in the chart on the left. Each of these symbols, each of these numbers represents a different type of plastic known as a resin identification number. Despite the fact that the chasing arrows symbol appears on different products made with these different types of resins, not all of them are actually accepted for recycling in most communities in the United States. So number 1 and number 2 are widely accepted. Number 5 is moderately accepted. But numbers 3 and 4, 6 and 7, are rarely accepted. Despite the fact that this symbol appears on the product or package, the capacity simply is not there.