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Heidi Sanborn has been a leader in the solid waste industry in California for 25 years, working with industry, government, and the public to reduce waste, improve product design and recyclability, and implement cost-effective policies to protect public and environmental health. Collaborating with local government leaders, Heidi was one of two original co-directors of CPSC in 2007 to change the way product waste is funded and managed in California; she has since become a nationally recognized thought leader and driver for innovative product stewardship programs across the country and is the founding Executive Director of the National Stewardship Action Council advocating nationally for a circular economy.

Heidi’s collaborative, tenacious problem-solving approach has delivered unprecedented success in developing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) public policy at national, state and local levels. She has engaged diverse stakeholder groups to create and promote best-in-class product stewardship programs for pharmaceuticals, mercury thermostats, carpets, paint, fluorescent lights, and mattresses.  Nationally, Heidi was instrumental in the adoption of EPR policies by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the US Conference of Mayors.  She served in state government as the technical advisor to the Chair of the California Integrated Waste Management Board (now CalRecycle). To date, she has assisted most of the 138 California cities and counties in adopting resolutions aimed at reducing environmental pollutants and hazardous and problematic waste by eliminating them at their source.  Through CPSC, she successfully co-sponsored AB 2347 with the Sierra Club and supported by Honeywell, creating a comprehensive statewide take-back program for mercury thermostats to reduce mercury pollution in the environment.  She worked to implement the country’s first full EPR paint program with the American Coatings Association and CalRecycle, piloting the Be Paint Wise program at 17 retailers in three counties.  She partnered with California Stormwater Quality Association, auto industry, and Sanitation Districts on Brake Pad Partnership Legislation to minimize copper in urban watersheds by phasing it out of brake pads sold in California.  Heidi has also influenced the formation of product stewardship councils in three key states, which respectively passed EPR legislation: for e-waste in Texas, mercury lamps in Vermont, and rechargeable batteries in New York.   She was instrumental in providing technical assistance to Alameda County, California which ultimately adopted the first producer responsibility ordinance in the country for pharmaceuticals which was challenged by PhRMA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and Alameda won the right that local governments can impose EPR approaches for hazardous products.  There are now 13 ordinances in the nation, 8 in California.

Heidi has facilitated strategic partnerships among diverse, cross-sector stakeholders, many whom have traditionally opposed the EPR approach.  Heidi has partnered with product manufacturers (Dell, Nestle Waters, Armstrong Flooring and Ceiling Tiles), retailers (Staples), associations and coalitions (California Retailers Association, Solid Waste Associate of North America, North American Hazardous Materials Management Association, American Coatings Association, Sustainable Packaging Association, Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce/Build Infrastructure Now Coalition), waste haulers (Republic Services, Waste Management, Recology, Marin Sanitary Service) and environmental/public health nonprofits (Clean Water Action, As You Sow).   Heidi’s tireless outreach has educated thousands of individuals and decision makers about how to take action locally to achieve the benefits of EPR.  Her accomplishments include:  increased recycling and end-of-life management of products, packaging and e-waste; successful roll-out and public acceptance of hazardous materials collection and take-back programs; tremendous cost savings for industry, governments and taxpayers; and job creation resulting from effective resource management and recovery programs.

Heidi speaks throughout the world to raise awareness about EPR and product stewardship. She teaches about EPR for the California Resources Recovery Association, and has been frequently published on the topic. Heidi earned a B.A. in Political Science – Public Service from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.  She lives in Sacramento with her husband Brad and rescue dogs and enjoys eco-adventure travel.


Presentation Intro:  Heidi has worked as a consultant to local governments and the state, been an advisor to the Chair of the old “waste board” for 2 years, and for the last 10 years has been the director of California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC).

CPSC was founded by California local governments in 2007 and expanded in 2015 to have a national affiliate called the National Stewardship Action Council to advocate for EPR and a circular economy to reduce waste and the cost of waste management for municipalities.

She speaks internationally on the subject of EPR and the Circular Economy and is frequently published on the subject and is here today to give a quick update on the progress on getting producers to share in the responsibility for greener design and recycling of their products through voluntary partnerships and policy approaches.

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