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EPA Wraps Up America Recycles Week with Second Annual Recycling Summit

Agency published national framework to advance U.S. recycling

11/15/2019
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON ⁠— Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler convened EPA’s second Recycling Summit on America Recycles Day to address the major challenges facing the U.S. recycling system. The Summit engaged executives and leaders from across the recycling value chain to build on their success over the last year and commit to continuing to work together through implementation of a national framework to advance recycling in the U.S.

“On America Recycles Day, I am proud to release the National Framework for Advancing the U.S. Recycling System, which summarizes our accomplishments over the past year and recommends actions for 2020,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under the Trump Administration, EPA is working diligently to identify market-based strategies and innovative ideas to create a more sustainable recycling system in America and across the globe. I look forward to continuing our work with our partners to improve infrastructure, develop secondary markets, and more effectively communicate with the public about addressing the entire lifecycle of recycled materials.”

“The President’s Executive Order on Efficient Federal Operations directed Federal agencies to increase the efficiency of Federal buildings and vehicles, improve environmental performance, and reduce costs,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary Neumayr. “Agencies continue to innovate and advance solutions to drive waste diversion and recycling. Last year, agencies diverted more than 50% of their municipal solid waste from landfills. I look forward to continuing to work with Federal agencies as well as States, localities, academia, and the private sector to support waste prevention and recycling.”

“The Trump Administration recognizes marine debris poses a significant threat to our oceans, marine life, and coastal communities. Together we can support development of next-generation biodegradable plastics and enhance recycling efforts through the implementation of a robust national framework and committed partnerships. We look forward to collaborating with industry and appropriate stakeholders to develop innovative, cost-effective technologies to gather, recycle, and treat plastic waste,” said White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier.

“This past year EPA has brought some of the most innovative, forward thinking organizations to the table to solve some key challenges in the recycling system. I have no doubt that together we can leverage our collective resources and expertise to strengthen the U.S. recycling system,” said EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management Assistant Administrator Peter Wright.

“This is an issue that touches homes and communities across the nation and at the same time offers everyone the opportunity to be better stewards of the environment,” said Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez. “Under the leadership of Administrator Wheeler, EPA is seeking to help provide an incredible opportunity for bringing a broad cross section of groups and individuals to have fruitful discussions about the complex challenges of recycling and the development of real-world, sustainable solutions.”

Since signing the America Recycles Pledge in November 2018, EPA and participating organizations met regularly to undertake actions to promote education and outreach, enhance materials management infrastructure, strengthen secondary materials markets and improve measurement. The work of this ongoing collaboration is described in the National Framework to Advance the U.S. Recycling System, which was released today and details the efforts to-date and outlines future activities. The 2019 Summit was a chance to highlight the successes of this work and to announce new initiatives.

“I commend Administrator Wheeler and his team for bringing stakeholders together to build on the recycling industry’s successes and help raise awareness of America Recycles Day. We all know that recycling is a commonsense way for us to be responsible stewards of our environment, but recycling also strengthens our economy and creates hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs nationwide. The new developments from this year’s summit should help advance both those causes. It is truly a win-win,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Co-Chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus. 

“Recycling is an important part of numerous efforts to help ensure a clean, healthy environment. The best policies governing the manufacture and disposal of goods in commerce are grounded in sound science and take into account the various social, economic and environmental needs involved. The EPA’s Recycling Summit signals the Administration’s commitment to environmental conservation that will yield important opportunities and benefits for generations of Americans to come. I will continue to advocate for the effective preservation and reutilization of our tremendous natural resources,” said U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). 

“Industrial and commercial recycling is good for our economy and our environment, and consumer recycling is one of the most important actions average Americans can participate in for our climate,” said U.S. Representative John Shimkus (IL-15). “I applaud EPA’s attention to this issue and the work the agency is doing to address challenges to more effective recycling systems.” 

“The nation’s Mayors are leading the way when it comes to investing in recycling and solid waste management, but we need assistance if we are to meet today’s recycling challenges. We appreciate the work that EPA has done to bring the public and private sector together to develop solutions as we move forward,” said Bryan Barnett, President of the United States Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Rochester Hills (MI).  

“Responsible environmental stewardship and economic opportunity are top priorities for America’s counties,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We are proud to participate in America Recycles Day to highlight the role counties and our residents play in ensuring the strength of our environment and our economy.”

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it’s important to celebrate what municipalities have accomplished over the years, while also understanding how much more work still needs to be done,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony. “With the changes in recycling markets and the uncertainty we see in today’s industry, it is a critical time for public, private and nonprofit sectors to double down on new solutions.”

“We appreciate U.S. EPA’s engagement to support states. Under Governor Hutchinson’s leadership, Arkansas has realized tremendous environmental, energy, and economic benefits through effective policy and community-based programs. We encourage industry to continue to invest in technology and sustainable practices to build on the progress made to turn recyclables into resources,” said Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment Secretary Becky W. Keogh.  

“On America Recycles Day 2019, cities across the nation are working to find fresh solutions to turn challenges into opportunities for innovation. As Phoenix celebrates our recycling program’s 30th anniversary, we are working to maintain a sustainable legacy that future generations will be proud to inherit,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

“Recycling and reducing waste are important elements in building a future in which our community uses materials responsibly,” said Clackamas County, Ore. Chair Jim Bernard. “Realizing that responsibility helps to protect our local and global environment, our long-term prosperity, and respects the needs of future generations.”

EPA and its stakeholders announced other work that they have completed over the past year, including:

  • Creating a “virtual clearinghouse” led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that will serve as a one-stop shop for municipalities and local governments to find tools and resources, case studies and best practices to improve their recycling programs. 
     
  • Publishing an infographic compiling recycling statistics and quotes from executives recognizing recycling’s importance for various industries and the economy. 
     
  • Developing a list of funding opportunities for recycling infrastructure improvement, included within the virtual clearinghouse. 
     
  • Developing a draft definition of recycling, to help organizations create recycling goals, track progress towards achieving these goals and evaluate recycling programs. 

Participants in the 2019 Summit represented a broad range of U.S.-based organizations, including manufacturers and brands; federal, state, tribal and local governments; non-profit organizations; and industry trade associations.

Since the 2018 Summit, more than 100 additional organizations have signed the pledge on EPA’s website, committing to leveraging their collective expertise, strengths and resources to address U.S. recycling challenges and opportunities. As of today, 179 organizations in total have signed the pledge.

Prior to the Recycling Summit, Administrator Wheeler held an Executive Roundtable entitled “Building a Resilient Recycling System through Infrastructure Investment and Market Development” where participants committed to working together over the next year to implement a national framework for advancing the U.S. recycling system. Participants included senior executives and leaders from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, The Aluminum Association, American Chemistry Council, American Forest & Paper Association, Arkansas Department of Energy and the Environment, Association of Plastic Recyclers, Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, Coca-Cola, DC Department of Public Works, Environmental Research and Education Foundation, Glass Packaging Institute, GreenBlue Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Keep America Beautiful, Kuerig Dr. Pepper, National Tribal Operations Council, National Waste and Recycling Association, Nestle, Paper Recycling Coalition, PepsiCo, Plastics Industry Association, Procter & Gamble, The Recycling Partnership, Solid Waste Association of North America, Southeast Recycling Developing Council, Steel Manufacturers Association, Toyota North America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Walmart, and Waste Management.

On Wednesday, Administrator Wheeler toured two recycling facilities in Virginia. At the American Disposal Services Recycling Center in Manassas, Va. Administrator Wheeler and Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity viewed the recycling processing where glass, aluminum, paper, steel, and cardboard is separated before being broken down and reused. Next, they visited the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services I95 Complex. They observed a complex glass processing demonstration, which showed how the facility processes crushed glass for reuse in various county projects.

“Thank you to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for visiting Fairfax County to learn and see firsthand what we’re doing in the area of recycling, especially with our new glass recycling program, and to share with us some of the recycling trends both nationally and internationally,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity. “I’m proud of the enthusiasm our residents have for recycling and the success of our Department of Public Works recycling initiatives.”

Yesterday, EPA hosted the America Recycles: Innovation Fair to showcase innovation in education and outreach, products containing recycled materials, and advanced recycling technologies. At the fair, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the National Waste and Recycling Association presented challenge coins to veterans recognizing their service and commitment to environmental protection.

For more information on the fair, visit: https://www.epa.gov/americarecycles/2019-america-recycles-innovation-fair.

EPA encourages interested U.S.-based organizations to get involved and sign the America Recycles pledge: https://www.epa.gov/americarecycles/forms/america-recycles-pledge.

Learn more about the ongoing America Recycles work at www.epa.gov/AmericaRecycles