Week in Review: Recycling Edition
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated America Recycles Week hosting the first-ever America Recycles Innovation Fair and second annual Recycling Summit. These events brought together stakeholders across the entire value chain to address the major challenges facing the U.S. recycling system today. Administrator Wheeler kicked off the week touring recycling facilities in Fairfax County, Va. with Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity. Here's some recycled content to bring you up to speed on the big takeaways:
Agency Publishes National Framework to Advance U.S. Recycling & Announces New Initiatives
With more than 179 organizations signing the America Recycles Pledge since November 2018, EPA and signers 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 on America Recycles Day, 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.
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.
What They Are Saying: Featuring Recycled Words from President Trump
"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."
"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."
Recycling News Redux
"The United States Environmental Protection Agency is pitching in." During a sit-down interview with Nexstar, Administrator Wheeler highlighted the work EPA is doing to tackle the issue of recycling. (Nexstar, 11/18/19)
"The agency hosted the second annual recycling summit in Washington D.C. with over 170 organizations participating.
The organizations were looking at new challenges the recycling industry is facing; from infrastructure to public education to technology... Wheeler said America can do better. 'Americans want to recycle but we need to make sure that everyone is doing it properly and that we can take full advantage of the materials and that they can go into new products,' Wheeler said."
"The EPA under President Donald Trump has made significant strides in boosting recycling... EPA in 2020 will support workshops across the country to build markets for recycled materials, kick off a pilot education campaign to increase public awareness of how to recycle, establish a set of national definitions, and create a national map of existing recycling infrastructure to identify gaps..." (Bloomberg Environment, 11/15/19)
"The U.S. EPA plans to establish national recycling goals 'early next year,' Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Waste Dive." In an interview at the America Recycles Innovation Fair with Waste Dive, Administrator Wheeler discusses the Trump Administration's commitment and attention to recycling. "'I think it's a big priority because it's a problem that we have to solve. And it's really going to take some federal attention to solve it,' he told Waste Dive, going on to mention a need to improve the quality and quantity of recycled feedstock for new products." (Waste Dive, 11/15/19)
"Participants in last year's summit signed a pledge to work together to identify 'specific actions that we can take collectively and within our respective organizations to improve the nation's recycling system.' Over the course of the year, the number of pledge signatories ballooned to 179 governments, associations and corporations." (E&E News, 11/15/19)