During a House hearing March 29, supporters of the bill pointed to a successful pilot program that ended in 2009. But lobbyist Paul DeRoche of the Rhode Island Retail Federation said the mandate poses a public safety risk in stores.
Robert Goldberg, representing CVS, said the pilot program "hasn't worked out." When pressed by members of the Environment and Natural Resource Committee, he was unable to cite specific costs the retail giant spent on the program. He simply called the sharps collection service "a very complicated problem."
Sarah Kite, director of recycling services at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), said without collections at pharmacies, hospitals and even fire stations the syringes and other medical instruments, referred to as sharps, often are stashed in plastic bottles that end up in recycling bins.
Sharps, she said, pose a health risk to recycling employees and trigger regular shutdowns of sorting equipment. RIRRC loses an estimated $500,000 annually because of shutdowns, she said.
The committee voted to hold the bill for further study, along with several other proposed "producer responsibility" bills aimed at cutting waste created by bulky and harmful products.
A paint products disposal program (pdf) also was held for further study. The bill would assess a fee on paint cans and related products in order to fund a stewardship program overseen by the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the RIRRC. The goal would be to create programs for reducing, reusing and proper disposal of unused paint.
A bill (pdf) establishing a system for disposal of large and compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury, also was held for further study. The National Electrical Manufacturers Associations and other industry representatives complicated the proposal by announcing plans for a similar industry-run light bulb disposal program. Jamie Rhodes of Clean Water Action, a perennial advocate for producer responsibility bills, said the announcement of the alternative proposal was a surprise. "I feel excited that they have an outline of the plan," he said. "With light bulbs having an 8- to 10-year life span we need this program in place."
EDITOR’S NOTE: The prime sponsor of the bills regulating paint sales to promote their reuse and recycling, and for the safe disposal mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs is our own Rep. Donna Walsh (D-District 36).
Oil Reduction. The House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources passed abill (pdf) establishing a petroleum savings and independent advisory commission. The committee would study gas and oil consumption programs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Targets include a reduction in petroleum consumption by 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. The committee also would promote biofuel public transportation, rail and bike travel and electric vehicles. "If were going to improve energy effcieny at our home and in our cars this is an important conversation to be had," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown/Middletown. A vote in the House is scheduled for April 4.
Toxic schools. A bill (pdf) establishing oversight of school construction on contaminated land was held for further study in order to discuss amendments on the bill. "We want clear guideline for cities and towns to use,"
Pets at campgrounds. A bill (pdf) allowing pets 35 pounds or less at campgrounds was held for further study after some lively debate over the lengthy distance sounds from birds and dogs can travel.
Septic systems. New, and perhaps less expensive septic systems, wouldn't require full approval from the DEM if they meet state designer guidelines under a bill (pdf) that was held for additional study.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This bill may become unnecessary when new DEM regulations, also brokered by Rep. Donna Walsh (see above) take effect before the start of the summer construction season.