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ISRI, SWANA Support RECYCLE Act to Improve Residential Recycling

ISRI, SWANA Support RECYCLE Act to Improve Residential Recycling

The measure aims to enhance public education around proper recycling and update the federal procurement process to strengthen demand for recyclable material.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) applauded the efforts of Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) for introducing the Recycling Enhancements to Collection and Yield through Consumer Learning and Education (RECYCLE) Act. The legislation will enhance public educational efforts around proper recycling and update the federal procurement process to strengthen demand for recyclable material.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) also announced its support for the legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, which provide necessary federal funding for recycling infrastructure and public education and outreach. 

On November 15, America Recycles Day 2019, Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Realizing the Economic Opportunities and Values of Expanding Recycling (RECOVER) Act. This bill would allocate $500 million in matching federal grants to eligible states, local municipalities and tribal governments to invest in improving their recycling infrastructure, programs and education efforts. Legislation was also introduced on November 21 to address recycling outreach and public education by United States Sens. Portman and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The RECYCLE Act would provide $50 million in competitive grants to states, local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations and public-private partnerships to improve the effectiveness of residential recycling programs though public education and outreach. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Todd Young (R-IN) are original cosponsors of this legislation.

"There are a number of legislative efforts being put forth in Congress to tackle the current challenges we are seeing in the nation’s residential recycling system," said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, in a statement. "The focus is to improve the quality of the residential recycling stream and provide incentives for greater market demand for recyclables."

"The RECYCLE Act will help accomplish both goals. Through the consumer recycling education and outreach grant program, we hope to see improvements in the quality of the material entering the stream," she added. "And with a stronger procurement process, the federal government is in a position to help drive demand for recyclable materials. Recycling paves the way for the future of our planet. These efforts are proof that recycling is indeed worth it."

ISRI noted it was proud to work with Sen. Portman and other industry stakeholders on key provisions to further strengthen this legislation. Over the course of the last year, ISRI has also worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which would administer the educational grant program in this bill, on key solutions including public outreach efforts. The industry is committed to working with Congress, the administration and other stakeholders on continuing to provide innovation solutions to strengthen residential recycling systems across the U.S.

"The financial support presented in this legislation is essential to building a reenergized recycling infrastructure and programs to meet stricter quality standards for recycling materials," said SWANA President Michael Greenberg in a statement. "For many decades, recycling and recycling education was largely a municipal, county and state program. With these grants, all aspects of recycling will receive a significant and needed boost with this federal initiative."

"The RECYCLE Act provides timely and necessary support for public education and outreach to communities struggling to improve their residential recycling programs," said David Biderman, executive director and CEO for SWANA, in a statement. "For recycling to remain sustainable in the United States, the public needs to better understand its important role in reducing contamination and increasing valuable materials in the recycling bin. Congressional action would send a powerful message that the federal government prioritizes recycling."

These two bills join the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, also under consideration in Congress and supported by SWANA, that works to address challenges within our nation’s recycling system. SWANA noted it will continue to educate federal legislators about the unique challenges facing municipal recycling and advocate for advancing the responsible management of solid waste as a resource.

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