US Mayors Support Extended Producer Responsibility for Mattresses

U.S. Conference of Mayors passes resolution developed jointly by the Product Stewardship Institute and the mayor of Hartford, Conn.

October 30, 2012
CDR Staff

A consortium of U.S. mayors has publicly declared its support for extended producer responsibility (EPR) for mattresses, according to the Product Stewardship Institute Inc. (PSI), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the health and environmental impacts of consumer products.

The EPR is a form of regulated product stewardship that holds manufacturers responsible for the post-consumer management of their products. EPR aims to shift the financial and managerial burden of end-of-life management away from the public sector and encourages manufacturers to manage disposal of their products in a more environmentally sound manner. In a recently passed resolution that PSI and Hartford, Conn., Mayor Pedro Segarra co-drafted, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) endorsed state and federal EPR legislation for mattresses as an effective means of reducing the costs of mattress disposal for municipalities, creating local recycling jobs and promoting other recycling opportunities that this untapped waste stream offers.

"I am pleased to see this display of support for product stewardship on a national scale," says Scott Cassel, PSI founder and CEO. "The mayors' support for mattress-specific legislation represents a tangible step toward more effective policies for managing a costly component of the municipal waste stream."  

The USCM passed a resolution in support of the principles of EPR in 2010, but the recent resolution represents its first endorsement of product-specific EPR legislation. The resolution, passed in the summer of 2012, also endorses the new product stewardship and extended producer responsibility principles and definitions developed jointly by PSI, the Product Policy Institute and the California Product Stewardship Council.

PSI has been working to develop concrete EPR legislation for mattresses since 2010. The Institute has held several multistakeholder meetings with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), local governments in the state and across the nation, the mattress industry, retailers and others to discuss this proposed legislation. In May 2012, the Connecticut Senate passed an EPR bill for mattresses by a vote of 32 to 4. However, the legislative session ended before the House could vote on the bill.

"EPR programs must be in the mix if municipalities are to be able to achieve long-term, sustainable and affordable waste diversion and management goals," says Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, assistant director of Hartford's Department of Public Works. "In Connecticut's continuing effort to pass EPR mattress legislation, communities statewide stand to save more than $1.2 million from present disposal costs borne by taxpayers. A cooperative and shared cost for end-of-life management of mattresses lightens the taxpayer burden and also transforms mattresses into feedstock for Connecticut's two mattress recycling facilities."