As part of America Recycles Day, ISRI hosted a Congressional briefing focusing on Design for Recycling. ISRI was also a major participant in the EPA’s weeklong set of activities. A panel of representatives from four different industries spoke about their commitment towards better design, sustainability and recycling. The panelists were from Nestle Waters, LyondellBasell, Dell Technologies, and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Nestle and Dell are both past ISRI Design for Recycling™ Award winners with Dell having received the award twice.
One of the main purposes of the briefing each year is to illustrate how the recycling industry has responded to the ever changing environment of manufacturing and recycling. A large topic has been the disruption in the residential recycling programs throughout the United States. However, this disruption has resulted in some good aspects especially the motivation to improve the quality of recyclables from curbside recycling. Additionally, this is an opportunity to educate citizens and policymakers about the important role of recycling. ISRI has responded for over two years to counter the myth that recycling doesn’t work and is ineffective.
A second purpose or opportunity is to educate Congressional staffers about recycling and get them to understand the many players and processes involved. This helps when Congress wants to enact a law that could impact recycling. We have seen many instances when Congress has responded to problems only to make matters worse. Take for instance, the electronics export legislation that would restrict the exports of used electronics. The purpose of this legislation is to prevent used electronics from getting into the supply chains of military applications. However, Congress isn’t taking into account that most electronics devices and components are manufactured outside the United States so a ban on the exports would have no effect on counterfeiting but would have a significant impact on electronics recycling and reuse resulting in more landfilling of used electronics. Other examples of poorly thought-through legislation are bills that ban certain products and/or charge fees. These types of bills disrupt the recycling marketplace.
America Recycles Day has grown from a one day event where citizens all across America recognized recycling. Today it has grown into a weeklong event where Congress, the EPA, organizations, and companies all are trying to advance the causes of recycling. EPA has also introduced the Recycling Challenge and a National Recycling Strategy. ISRI has been participating in these events for many years and took an active role in helping promote and organize all these events. This activism demonstrates that citizens want to make a difference and recycle correctly. And, it also demonstrates that recycling is not over but is responding and changing.