• Press Release

ISRI Letters to Governors Highlight Vital Role of Recycling in U.S. Manufacturing

(Washington, DC) – In letters addressed to governors across the country, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), requested that recycling operations be recognized as an essential and necessary at the state level, as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the recycling industry’s continued supply of raw materials for the manufacturing of critical products and equipment relied upon by citizens every day, ISRI’s letter goes on to detail the essential needs for operations such as manufacture of toilet paper, paper towels, corrugated cardboard boxes used for online shipping, electronics for home schooling, remote telework, and other essential supplies met by the industry.

Excerpts from ISRI’s letters follow (full text of sample letter available here)

… As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, many governors are facing difficult decisions as to whether to once again close certain “non-essential” business sectors they had reopened after spring lockdowns. We recognize these actions are further complicated by the fact that some jobs and businesses are essential and necessary to sustain or protect life and maintain critical infrastructure. Regrettably, the lack of a coherent federal policy to curb the pandemic has led to a patchwork of restrictions that do not provide the consistency necessary in determining what is considered essential.

… The U.S. Department of Homeland Security referenced in its guidance that the manufacturing of materials and products is wholly dependent on manufacturers’ ability to obtain the feedstock necessary to feed their operations. Thus, the definition of “critical manufacturing” provided by DHS is inclusive of the operations necessary for the collection and processing of the raw materials – whether secondary or primary – needed to supply critical manufacturing. Unfortunately, there is continuing confusion in this area in need of clarification. We urge you to provide certainty for the critical employees and businesses of the recycling industry by formally recognizing that recycling operations are essential and necessary for the continued supply of raw materials for the manufacturing of critical products and equipment relied upon by citizens … every day.

Recycling operations are the first link and an essential part of critical manufacturers' supply chain, supplying an average of 40% of U.S. manufacturing raw material needs. Without the continued supply of specification-grade recyclable materials into these operations, many of these manufacturing companies would be forced to curtail their operations. …

Recycling is essential in meeting manufacturers’ needs now and into the future, not just for critical infrastructure but for everyday life necessities. Recycled metal, paper, plastics, and other commodity-grade materials feed 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 and ventilators that are in short supply as the number of cases surge. …

… From the beginning, the recycling industry has 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 the shutdowns. As your administration takes steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in light of this new surge of cases, we ask that all recycling operations … be designated “essential” to public health and welfare, as well as to the state’s and our nation’s economic infrastructure. …


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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