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U.S. EPA Evaluates Options to Support U.S. Recycling Industry

I had an opportunity last week to meet twice with leadership at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On Tuesday, I was one of just three private sector representatives asked to speak at a meeting of all EPA RCRA Regional Directors chaired by EPA Special Counsel Peter Wright, and on Friday, we had a private meeting with Mr. Wright.

At the RCRA meeting, I provided a brief summary of the state of the U.S. recycling industry as impacted by China, transportation and infrastructure shortcomings in the United States, “wishcycling,” and other structural factors. I also spoke about the need to distinguish between scrap/recyclables and solid waste in law and in policy so as to more accurately regulate and support the recycling industry.  There was much discussion around opportunities for increasing demand as a means of further strengthening recycling in the United States.  I provided everyone from EPA and the Regions hard copies of ISRI’s newly released 2018 Yearbook

In the private meeting, I followed up on the themes discussed on Tuesday.  I helped provide a greater understanding of the overall recycling infrastructure and the relationships between commercial, industrial and residential recycling for each of the commodity streams. Joining me at the meeting was Waste Management Public Affairs Director Susan Robinson, who gave a good overview of the practical implications of the changing market on her company but that are similarly felt throughout the industry, especially for those dependent upon the residential stream for materials. We also had an opportunity to review ISRI’s survey on curbside recycling programs in the United States and offered our support for an event EPA is planning for America Recycles Day (ARD) and beyond (such as potentially hosting an industry event at ISRI2019).

It is clear from these meetings that EPA is trying to better understand the challenges facing recycling today – especially as it relates to the residential recycling infrastructure - and they are evaluating non-legislative options to help. We will be fully involved in the ARD event and will continue to work closely with EPA as it develops its strategy.

If you have any questions, please contact myself or Adina Renee Adler.
 

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