Despite a year filled with political gridlock and uncertainty in U.S. politics, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) announced it achieved a number of important victories benefiting recyclers in 2018. This sets the stage for the organization’s 2019 Advocacy Agenda, which recognizes new challenges and opportunities in the industry at the local, state, federal and international levels related to Market Development & Economic Opportunity, International Trade, Energy and the Environment, Transportation & Infrastructure Development, Workplace Safety Initiatives, Workforce & Immigration Issues and Regulatory Policy.
“China’s actions in 2018, as well as other shifting trade policies around the world, puts an added focus on the need for market development and economic opportunity for the recycling industry,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, in a statement. “Domestically, a shortage of qualified labor and the immigration debate in Washington has highlighted the need for increased advocacy on workforce development issues. In regard to safety, the hazards posed by lithium batteries entering the recycling stream has elevated the need for ISRI to monitor regulatory responses very closely and continue to work collaboratively with others in the development of best practices and awareness activities. These key issues, along with others, are reflected in ISRI’s 2019 Advocacy Agenda as ISRI continues to be the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill, in front of the administration and before government entities around the world.”
Promoting free and fair trade of scrap commodities continues to be a major focus in 2019, with an emphasis on ensuring minimal impact from China's import policies and the U.S.-China trade war; opening new markets through an ISRI Trade Mission to Southeast Asia; supporting the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement to succeed the North American Free Trade Agreement; promoting universal use of ISRI Specifications; and preventing export restrictions on scrap.
In addition to issues surrounding workforce development and lithium-battery management, ISRI will be focusing more on roadway safety. The trade association recently joined the National Safety Council’s Road to Zero program to address distracted driving with the goal of zero roadway safety deaths by 2050.
ISRI also noted it will work directly with governments and with industry partners to promote opportunities to use recycled content in infrastructure development and in the manufacturing of new products. In addition to infrastructure, other transportation policies including trucking and rails will be a focus of ISRI’s advocacy’s efforts.
“ISRI’s advocacy achievements in 2018 are helping to reduce tax, compliance and other regulatory burdens on recyclers while increasing the potential profits,” continued Wiener. “ISRI will continue to be active in 2019 delivering even more gains for the industry.”
Victories from the 2018 Advocacy Agenda include:
- Protection of the depreciation allowance for recycling equipment: The tax reform bill signed into law allows for recyclers to expense 100 percent of purchases, sales and maintenance of equipment in the first year of purchase. This provision will remain for five years dating back to January 2018, and if not extended, will revert back to 50 percent for qualified recycling equipment.
- Retaining the Interest Charge Domestic Sales Corporation Provision: ISRI stated it successfully fought to retain this export tax incentive in the final negotiations of the tax reform bill after the Senate tried to remove it.
- Extension of the National Mercury Switch Program: On America Recycles Day, ISRI joined with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and other stakeholders in the signing of a memorandum of understanding to extend the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program to 2021.
- Resumption of the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program: ISRI worked with the U.S. Mint to establish a certification program for recyclers allowing the program to restart.
- As part of ISRI’s commitment to maintaining flexibility in stormwater permitting, ISRI advocated for the industry in 2018 during the National Academies’ review of EPA’s 2015 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). In its recently released report, the National Academies offered some recommendations in line with ISRI’s comments, specifically against development of new numeric effluent limitations at this time and for use of wet-weather mixing zones, site-specific interpretation of water quality criteria and design-storm standards. In 2019, ISRI will address the National Academies’ more challenging recommendations with EPA during its development of the proposed 2020 MSGP. ISRI has released stormwater guidance as a resource for ISRI members in their compliance efforts.