The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), along with 11 partner associations, delivered a letter to Capitol Hill yesterday calling on the House majority and minority leaders to develop and advance an infrastructure investment package to address the United States’ need for better recycling efforts and innovation. The letter cites recent decisions—and ultimately, disruptors to U.S. recycling programs—by China to reduce or end the import of scrap material from other nations, coupled with the loss of valuable feedstock for American manufacturing when material that isn’t recycled ends up in landfills.
“Recycled materials are a national resource that are underutilized in our economy,” said PLASTICS Vice President of Government Affairs Scott DeFife in a statement. “The facilities that are needed to process recycled materials require modernization. Our letter to lawmakers invites the start of a national dialogue on improving our recycling infrastructure, and jumpstarting the nation's ability to collect, process and recycle more of these valuable commodities. The nation faces a critical juncture in waste management policies, and the federal government can work with state and local entities to make significant inroads with greater investments in recycling education and infrastructure.”
According to the 2016 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Recycling Economic Information Report, in one year recycling and reuse in the United States accounted for 757,000 jobs, $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenue.
“The U.S. recycling industry is in a transformative time, and through investment in our recycling infrastructure, we can ensure the industry changes and grows in a way that will meet our domestic manufacturing needs for years to come,” said PLASTICS Vice President of Sustainability Kim Holmes in a statement.
The letter outlines the following priorities:
- Retrofitting materials recovery facilities (MRFs) with advanced sorting equipment that can identify and properly handle a wider range of packaging forms, including flexible film and smaller items made of otherwise recyclable material.
- Quicker permitting of MRFs, plastics recycling facilities and conversion technology facilities that create valuable chemicals and energy products.
- Increased use of recycled material in infrastructure products where appropriate.
- Broadened use of private activity bonds for recycling projects.
- Incentive grants for state and local governments to expand curbside recycling options and the range of materials collected.
- Education and training to improve understanding of what is recyclable and to promote the manufacturing jobs aspect of the recycling process that supports American jobs, the U.S. economy and the environment.
The signatories represent public and private sector associations and organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, Association of Plastics Recyclers, Carpet America Recovery Effort, Flexible Packaging Association, Foodservice Packaging Institute, GreenBlue, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, National Waste & Recycling Association, PAC Packaging Consortium, Solid Waste Association of North America and The Recycling Partnership.