• Press Release

ISRI Calls on CDC to Recognize Recycling as Essential and Critical Industry

(Washington, DC) – Serving as the Voice of the Recycling Industry™, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) called upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recognize recyclers as essential and critical workers.

In a letter sent to the CDC Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), ISRI expresses appreciation for the work of the CDC and advisory committee, and also praises the “Phased Approach to Vaccination Allocation” as the right approach to appropriately prioritizing frontline workers and older populations for the first issuances of a vaccine. ISRI also asks that as ACIP considers next steps in ensuring “workers in essential and critical industries” are vaccinated, following the needs of healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents being met, the essential role of the recycling industry is considered.

Excerpts from ISRI’s letter are as follows (full letter available here)

The recycling industry thanks you for your leadership and dedication to protecting Americans during the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We are particularly grateful for the care that you, and others throughout the Federal Government, have taken to ensure the safety and distribution of the vaccine that is now available. 

… It is our understanding that ACIP is considering “workers in essential and critical industries” for vaccination once the needs of healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents are met.  As you decide these next steps for the roll out, we wish to note that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration (CISA) designated workers in the recycling industry as essential early on in the Pandemic. …

Recycled metal, paper, plastics, and other commodity-grade materials feed critical U.S. manufacturing operations that produce the rebar, wiring, tubing, transportation, packaging, and other key materials that are needed for everything from construction of new hospitals to the manufacture of new hospital beds, ventilators, toilet paper and other essential supplies needed to keep Americans safe and the economy running during this critical period, and more broadly in meeting manufacturers’ needs now and into the future. …

Furthermore, many recyclers directly support local governments by providing essential recycling collection and processing for communities across the country. …

From the beginning, recyclers implemented enhanced safety precautions in line with CDC guidelines to protect employees and customers, shifted eligible staff positions to teleworking and adjusted facility layouts to ensure physical distancing while continuing to provide essential services during nationwide shutdowns.  However, they also chose to close their public-facing retail operations due to health and safety concerns, reducing the supply of some grades of recyclables from peddlers and other sources, including aluminum cans and certain paper grades. … The vaccination of workers within the recycling industry will thus not only protect the employees but will also allow recyclers to maintain the full menu of essential services they provide for U.S. communities and manufacturers. …



The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the "Voice of the Recycling Industry™." ISRI represents 1,300 companies in 20 chapters in the U.S. and more than 40 countries that process, broker, and consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics, and textiles. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute provides education, advocacy, safety and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development. Generating nearly $110 billion annually in U.S. economic activity, the scrap recycling industry provides more than 500,000 Americans with good jobs.

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