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Environmental Justice - ISRI Member Background and Resources

The Recycled Materials Industry’s Guide to Maintaining Strong Connections and Positive Relations with Communities

ISRI members and the recycled materials industry have long been committed to being good neighbors in the communities in which we operate. We know we have an important role in both building and maintaining healthy neighborhoods, and we strive to be active members and partners in the community’s wellbeing and growth.

Environmental justice is a fast-evolving issue in the federal and state and local regulatory arena that has great potential to directly impact the recycled materials industry. As federal and state governments increase their focus on the issue, it is essential for recycled materials companies to communicate clearly about their value to the community and their commitment to the principles of environmental justice. To do so, ISRI is curating and regularly updating the following resources for members, with information and available tools at the links below.
What is environmental justice:
Environmental justice means different things to different people, but it has an emerging federal regulatory meaning which could directly impact recycled materials companies. According to the EPA, environmental justice “is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” From the EPA point of view, environmental justice is a focus on providing citizens with “the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
What it means for recycled materials companies:
The federal government has not yet adopted laws or regulations regarding environmental justice. However, some agencies have issued polices and guidance on incorporating environmental justice considerations into federal permitting, enforcement, cleanup programs and land use development. The federal government is also building capacity to regulate environmental justice considerations into laws, policies and programs.

Meanwhile, many states are not waiting for federal government clarity. Some 21 states thus far have either directly targeted recycled material company permitting or other permitting requirements that may include recycling facilities.


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Environmental justice resources for ISRI members

We will regularly update this section with additional resources and information to help guide members. As always, members can contact us directly at xcxcxcxc.

Backgrounders and Talking Points
  • ISRI Board-Approved EJ Talking Points (updated July 2021)
  • DRAFT proactive EJ talking points (updated March 2021)
  • Sample responses for EJ policy arguments that reflect upon recycling’s positive value
  • DRAFT reactive EJ talking points (updated March 2021)
  • Sample responses to EJ policy arguments found in existing state laws and/or legislation.
  • Sample newspaper op-ed article, California Capital Weekly (June 21, 2022)
  • Authored by a pastor and community activist in Watts, CA, as assisted by ISRI members.
  • Sample in-person legislative testimony
Industry videos on the value of recycling
  • Recycled Material Making a Difference in Our Lives (Aug 22, 2022) [Hyperlink]
  • Metal recycling is good for the environment (Aug 16, 2022) [Hyperlink]
  • How recyclers help in wake of wild fires [Hyperlink]
  • Old appliances get new life [Hyperlink]
  • Metal recycling works [Hyperlink]
  • Scrap Metal: Where does it all go? [Hyperlink]
  • Clean Up Crew [Hyperlink]
  • Donated Cars: Where do they go? [Hyperlink]
  • California Videos Source: California Metal Recyclers
EPA Background and Resources

The EPA provides environmental justice resources for businesses that are helpful for recyclers. For those resources below without a direct hyperlink, members may contact the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice at this link.

Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool, also known as EJSCREEN: This mapping tool allows users to identify areas that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards based on demographic and environmental data. [Hyperlink]

Environmental Compliance Assistance Program, or ECAP: ECAP provides businesses with information and assistance on complying with environmental regulations and reducing pollution.

Environmental Justice Training and Technical Assistance: The EPA provides training and technical assistance to help communities, businesses and government agencies understand and address environmental justice concerns.

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