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Advocacy Agenda: Energy & The Environment

The U.S. scrap recycling industry’s significant contributions to environmental protection, resource conservation, and sustainability can be enhanced by government policies (e.g., incentives for technology, a recognition that scrap is not waste and recycling is not disposal, etc.) that understand and recognize these benefits and that promote their growth.

With the industry recycling more than 130 million metric tons of commodity grade materials each year, transforming outdated or obsolete products and materials into useful raw materials needed to produce new products, recyclers offer real sustainable solutions for balancing economic growth and environmental stewardship. ISRI uses its voice to help policymakers throughout the U.S. and state governments understand and develop legislation, regulation, and policies that:

  • Recognize Scrap is Not Waste/Recyclables are Not Waste.
    Persistent attempts at misidentification of recyclable materials as solid waste, and even hazardous waste, impedes recycling at the federal, state, and local levels and hinders international trade. ISRI will continue to pursue insertion of the following language in federal and state laws: “used or recyclable metals, paper, plastic, glass, rubber, and textiles that are destined for reuse or recycling as valuable commercial commodities are not, and shall not be, deemed to be solid waste under any provision of law.” We will also build upon the effort started in 2017 through regulatory reform seeking clear, written guidance from the EPA Administrator to the Regions and state authorities stating that scrap commodities – including scrap metal, paper, plastics, glass, textiles and rubber ‐ destined for recycling are outside of and excluded from, the RCRA Subtitle D definitions of solid waste. Without such guidance, states are free to include scrap commodities as solid waste and do so, thus often subjecting recyclers to flow control, solid waste management plan requirements, and other regulatory requirements that have no applicability and add additional layers of cost and compliance burdens on individual recyclers. Furthermore, clear distinctions between waste and scrap, and the use of ISRI specifications to confirm quality and content, import/export regulations will better facilitate across border trades.

  • End Uncertainty over the Use of Recycled Crumb Rubber in Artificial Turf. 
    Timely completion of an EPA‐led research project studying crumb rubber on synthetic turf fields and playing surfaces is needed to provide certainty to the market for scrap tires as infill material on fields and surfaces. Unfortunately, EPA has delayed its report on the study beyond 2018. Use of recycled crumb rubber is being questioned by the public despite nearly 100 scientific studies concluding that recycled crumb rubber does not pose elevated health risks to athletes using such fields. In 2016 EPA began a multi‐ agency study of this issue with the CPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is important that EPA release an authoritative final report as soon as practicable, consistent with good scientific practices, so as to provide student athletes and their families with the answers they seek while providing the industry with needed market certainty. Related to this effort, ISRI continues to monitor the occurrence of legislation at the state and local level, coordinating member testimony and resources presented to policymakers supporting the use of synthetic turf made with crumb rubber.

  • Stop Materials Theft through Effective Legislation and Outreach Initiatives.
    ISRI continues its successful efforts at blocking congressional attempts to create a federal “solution” to a problem that all 50 states have already developed a comprehensive web of regulations to solve. Among the states, 57 active bills were introduced in legislatures in 2018. Of them, AZ, CA, KS, MO, OK and WI amended their metal theft statutes. In general, proposed legislation has shifted away from massive rewrites in favor of tweaks to existing requirements, with successful legislation often carrying the support of ISRI members. The recycling industry, and communities across the country, need robust enforcement of existing laws, not new laws. ISRI is aggressively pursuing stakeholder outreach, to include ISRI members through on-site visits by ISRI’s Director of Law Enforcement Outreach, and law enforcement and prosecutors through conference participation and metals theft workshops. ISRI is seeking even enforcement of existing laws and will provide valuable tools to assist in the fight against metal theft.

  • Oppose Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Systems that Interfere With and Disrupt Existing Viable Markets. 
    As EPR proposals continue to pop up throughout the states, ISRI will advocate that such proposals recognize the existing recycling infrastructure and are limited to products for which markets have not yet matured. In fact, ISRI supports ending producer responsibility and government‐imposed fee as soon as practicable once such markets mature and are economically sustainable.

  • Provide Support for Advanced Manufacturing. Opportunities exist to increase recycling through U.S. government‐led public‐private partnerships focused on research and development of innovative technologies and implementation of ISRI’s Design for Recycling® principles. ISRI believes that continued federal funding in these areas is wholly appropriate and necessary, and ensuring their continued funding remains an absolute ISRI priority.

    • ARPA-E: The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) supports a number of cutting-edge projects, including some involving ISRI member companies, on advanced material-separation technologies that otherwise might not be developed (or might be developed in other countries). Development and commercialization of these and other recycling technologies will enable more and newer types of materials to be recycled in the United States and unlock value that would otherwise be unrealized. 

    • REMADE: ISRI continues its active role as an Affiliate Member of the Institute for Reducing Embodied‐energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing. The REMADE Institute is a five-year public‐private partnership supported by $70 federal matching funds from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office via the Manufacturing USA Program. REMADE supports industry-relevant projects to drive down the cost of technologies for reusing, recycling, and remanufacturing metals, fibers, polymers, and used electronics. ISRI serves on REMADE’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Committees and is a supporting partner on several REMADE projects and proposals in the pipeline for 2019.

  • Exempt Recyclers from Liability under State Superfund Laws.
    Building upon recent successes in Florida and Tennessee, ISRI continue to identify opportunities for creating state SREAs (Superfund Recycling Equity Act) in as many states as possible to remove the threat of third-party liability for recyclers.

  • Ensure the Quality of the Recycling Stream through Proper Collection Systems.
    ISRI strongly opposes any attempt through legislation to offer tax incentives for, or otherwise require consolidated “mixed‐waste” collection, i.e., “One Bin.” Specifically, ISRI actively pursues strategies to assist the industry in its efforts to increase attention to the importance of product quality in the recycling stream and to the detrimental impacts on manufacturing when quality is not taken into consideration. ISRI continues to raise awareness of this issue with policymakers at all levels of government, highlighting the hazards of collecting trash and recyclables together in one bin, and the fallacies of viewing the matter through the narrow lens of economic savings to municipal solid waste programs (thus ignoring the loss of quality raw material feedstock to paper mills and other industrial consumers of secondary commodities and the economic harm that causes).

  • Reform Citizen Suits Provisions in the Clean Water Act to Prevent Abuse.
    ISRI seeks modifications to the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act to prevent frivolous and unfounded lawsuits. Over the years, we have witnessed increased abuse of Clean Water Act citizen lawsuits filed for enrichment rather than as the Act original intended. Many organizations have used publicly available databases to obtain information about regulated facilities and threaten to sue them under the Clean Water Act simply to extract sizable financial “donations” and “voluntary” actions from facilities not otherwise required by law to do so. These facilities settle simply to avoid the costs of litigation, while the organizations then use settlement donations to repeat the process on other facilities in a vicious cycle that was not intended by Congress. Only modification of the Clean Water Act can curb such abuse of citizen suits.

  • Protect Recyclers’ Right to Reuse and Repair.
    ISRI continues to quickly respond to all efforts to block recyclers’ ability to return products and goods back into the marketplace for legitimate reuse, including the right to market used products without warranty, provided all applicable legal requirements are followed by the recycler. This applies to many recycling sectors, including rubber, automotive, and electronics.

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