I agree that an extended producer responsibility program for packaging recycling is important ["Need urgency on recycling bills," Editorial, May 24]. That is also why it is appropriate to get it right: Producers, rather than taxpayers, should take responsibility for the packaging they generate. However, I don’t think the way to do that is to have the waste creators determine what municipal costs they cover, which products are included, and what is an acceptable recycling rate. Having the regulated community govern itself usually doesn’t result in the best outcome.
Taxpayers and our local governments deserve more than just a program that pays lip service to covering recycling costs and reducing packaging. They need a program that will succeed. Manufacturers should be focused on reducing packaging, increasing recyclability, facilitating reuse and refill, and removing toxic chemicals. Packaging producers need to be responsible for costs; towns and villages should no longer have property taxpayers on the hook for disposal of needlessly excessive packaging.
Steve Englebright, East Setauket
The writer, a Democratic state assemblyman, chairs the environmental conservation committee.
The editorial missed the mark.Assemb. Steven Englebright introduced the strongest packaging reduction law in the country, requiring 50% packaging reduction over 10 years, reducing toxics, and prohibiting plastics burning. Other bills allow industry to set their environmental standards, opening a Pandora’s box to burning plastics through “chemical recycling,” or pyrolysis, creating dangerous air pollution. We wouldn’t allow the fossil fuel industry to set standards of fossil fuel reduction. Why trust the plastics industry?
No extended producer responsibility package is complete without expanding the state’s successful Bottle Bill. Englebright submitted a complementary bill, by adding non-carbonated beverages, wine and liquor, and increasing the refundable deposit to a dime in three years. This measure redirects waste from municipal facilities, driving down taxpayer costs, while increasing recycling rates. Suffolk County passed the first Bottle Bill. New York can’t afford feeble proposals that don’t protect Long Island’s natural resources.
Ryan Thoresen Carson, Garden City
The writer is NYPIRG’s environmental campaign coordinator.
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