NWRA announced its strong support for U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) and Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Dean Phillips’ (D-MN) “Recycling Enhancements to Collection and Yield through Consumer Learning and Education (RECYCLE) Act of 2021”introduced on March 23. The legislation aims to increase both the quality and quantity of recycled materials. The bill would establish a consumer recycling education and outreach grant program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to clean up America’s recycling stream.

“NWRA welcomes this bipartisan legislation as our industry works to address the challenges it faces from the loss of international markets for recyclable commodities,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “We are pleased that the RECYCLE Act recognizes the important roles that nonproft organizations as well as public-private partnerships can play in increasing collection rates and reducing contamination in residential recycling programs.”

U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are original cosponsors of this legislation.

The RECYCLE Act would:

  • Authorize $15 million per year over five years in grants to states, local governments, Indian tribes, nonprofits and public-private partnerships to educate and inform consumers and households about their residential and community recycling programs.
  • Direct EPA to develop a model recycling program toolkit for states, local governments, Indian tribes and partners to deploy in order to improve recycling rates and decrease contamination in the recycling stream.
  • Require EPA to more frequently review and revise, if appropriate, its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, which designate products containing recycled materials and provide recommended practices for federal agencies to purchase such products.

The legislative history on recycling has been an “if you build it, they will come” philosophy focused primarily on creating supply by establishing ambitious recycling goals without adequate consideration of end markets. The RECYCLE Act addresses these shortcomings by requiring routine review of federal procurement of how products with recycled content are acquired. Further, the RECYCLE Act aims to address a significant challenge for recyclers everywhere—education and outreach. Recycling education and outreach ensures that consumers are aware of their recycling options and will be able to do it properly, thus reducing contamination in the stream.

Providing funding for education and outreach to inform consumers and households about what is accepted in their residential recycling programs is an important step in increasing both the quantity and quality of recycled material. NWRA looks forward to working with Sens. Portman and Stabenow and Reps. Joyce and Phillips to encourage passage of this bill and on their future efforts to incentivize upgrades to America’s recycling infrastructure.

For more information, visit www.wasterecycling.org.

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