Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the RECYCLE Act, legislation to create a new federal grant program through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help increase awareness among households and consumers about their residential and community recycling programs. The bill would help increase recycling rates and reduce contamination in the recycling stream. In addition to Senator Collins, the RECYCLE Act is supported by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Todd Young (R-IN).
“Recycling is essential to keeping our lands, waters, and other natural treasures free of plastic and other sources of pollution, helping to preserve our nation’s stunning beauty,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation would authorize grants for recycling programs throughout the country to ensure communities and consumers are aware of ways to increase the quantity and quality of recycled materials and to provide states and local governments with best practices on improving recycling rates.”
Reports have indicated that consumer confusion on how to properly recycle is one of the top challenges to increasing recycling and that education and outreach both increases participation in recycling and decreases contamination.
According to EPA, the recycling rate in the U.S. is 35.2 percent, and $9 billion worth of recyclable materials are thrown away each year. This presents a significant opportunity to improve our nation’s recycling systems. In addition, recycling offers numerous environmental and economic benefits: it diverts materials from landfills, reduces emissions by requiring less energy to reprocess materials, and creates jobs. EPA’s 2016 Recycling Economic Information (REI) Report found that recycling supports more than 757,000 jobs and $6.7 billion annually in tax revenues.
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 increase the visibility of 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; and
- Require EPA to more frequently review and revise, if appropriate, its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, which designate products containing recycled materials and provides recommended practices for federal agencies to purchase such products.
Supporters include: The Recycling Partnership, Solid Waste Association of North America, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Paper Recycling Coalition, American Forest & Paper Association, Can Manufacturers Institute, The Association of Plastic Recyclers, Plastics Industry Association, National Association of Manufacturers, American Chemistry Council, National Waste & Recycling Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Beverage Association, Procter & Gamble, Owens-Illinois, Reserve Management Group, Resinate Materials Group, KW Plastics, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Evangelical Environmental Network, Advanced Drainage Systems, Construction and Demolition Recycling Association, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Click HERE to read the text of the bill.