Rep. Betty McCollum, chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop the strategy as part of the subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill. The $37.3 billion FY2020 Interior-Environment funding bill has been passed by the House Appropriations Committee and will now be considered by the House floor.

The initiative will expedite a roll-out of standardized recycling labels, developed by non-profit organization Recycle Across America, to prevent recyclable materials from being contaminated and ending up in landfill.

Chairwoman McCollum released the following statement:

The national recycling strategy is an absolute priority in order to strengthen recycling in communities across America. It is environmental and economic madness to fill landfills and incinerators with recyclable materials because of confusion at the bin. Every household, business, school and institution should be using a standardized system to eliminate contamination and increase effective recycling. I want to thank Recycle Across America for their leadership and tremendous work to partner with me on this language and I am thrilled to be working with them to protect the environment and create jobs by strengthening recycling.

The bill will help to “ensure the long-term economic and environmental viability of local recycling programs by exercising national leadership and facilitating the harmonization of standards.” In the process, it stands to strengthen recycling markets and save billions of dollars’ worth of unnecessary expenditure.

The solution – standardizing labels – seems so simple. Why is it so important?Think about road signs. We take for granted that these are standardized across, and even between, countries. Now imagine if all the signs had different colors, designs, and terminology, and you were trying to negotiate traffic. It would be chaotic, and everything would come to a grinding halt.

That’s one analogy that Michelle Hedlund, founder of Recycle Across America, uses to explain why standardized labels are so critical. There are many more examples, ranging from time to medical equipment.

“You and I wouldn’t be chatting now if there were no standardized time,” she says. “You know, the exponential impact of one standardization is truly immeasurable.”

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