Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 13:13:08 -0500 (EST) From: FRIEDMAN.FRED@EPA.GOV (Fred Friedman) Subject: Re: Packaging Recycling (Lei Hua)
March 14, 2001 (Pi Day)
Dear Lei Hua,
Many countries approached packaging as one of the first targets of waste reduction and also recycling beginning in the mid 1980s because there was so much of it, so much visible, so much unnecessary: the UK, Germany, the US, other European countries. In the early 1990s an activist Green Party in Germany and and an activist Environment Minister (Klaus Topfer) drew public opinion and international interest (and of course, knee-jerk industry condemnation) towards backing a new law that mandated packaging take-back by industry or by its contractors. The German Packaging Ordinance has been widely imitated elsewhere. But not widely enough: packaging is still a major waste management target due to so much being plastic and so little plastics recycling infrastructure having been developed (in the U.S. only 6% of plastics packaging is recycled as of 1999). I don't know which nation leads but it wouldn't be the U.S. or Japan which still has a throw-away mentality. Standardization. The 3 chasing arrows is nea
rly universally recognized; the Society of the Plastics Industry numerical codes for plastics dominate American plastics packaging, but often to no (recycling) avail; I don't know if these codes are internationally recognized. I suspect that they are in Asia where much US plastics waste has been shipped for recycling for the past 6-8 years.
I don't have authoritative information to answer your other questions.
My opinion is that mandatory take-back programs for industry (enforced as part of national legislation) as well as consumer boycotts of overpackaged commodities, will work effectively to reduce and recycle packaging at acceptable levels for any given society where this remains a problem.
- Research Library for RCRA
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