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Reps. Phillips, Joyce Introduce RECYCLE Act to Increase Participation in Community Recycling

Yesterday, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) introduced H.R. 5906, the bipartisan Recycling Enhancements to Collection and Yield through Consumer Learning and Education (RECYCLE) Act. The bill authorizes $15 million per year for five years in grants to states, tribes, nonprofits, public partnerships, and local governments looking to increase community outreach, awareness and education on recycling.

The RECYCLE Act also directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a model recycling toolkit to increase recycling participation and decrease contamination, strengthening recycling streams, while more frequently updating guidelines for products containing recycled material.

“Around the country, people are expressing confusion about recycling guidelines –often it’s not at all clear how best to dispose of materials responsibly,” Rep. Dean Phillips said. “This bill will lower the number of recyclable materials that end up in the landfill due to contamination. I am proud to co-lead the RECYCLE Act with Rep. Joyce, and I look forward to working with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to get this to the President’s desk.”

“Recycling is critical to keeping Northeast Ohio and its natural resources, like Lake Erie, free of plastic and other types of pollution,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “However, between ever-evolving rules and so many different materials to sort through, nearly a third of all items that are recycled end up in landfills. I’m proud to introduce the RECYCLE Act with Rep. Phillips to help households understand how to avoid contamination that often causes recyclable materials to end up in the landfill and invest in recycling programs that are successfully keeping our communities clean.”

H.R. 5906 is a bipartisan step forward to addressing this long-running challenge for the recycling industry. According to the EPA, the recycling rate in the United States is around 35 percent, and nearly $9 billion worth of recyclable materials are thrown away each year. Even among those who do recycle, reports have indicated that one-third of materials that are put into household recycling bins ultimately end up in landfills, either because the material is not recyclable or is not accepted by a community’s recycling program. These materials contaminate the recycling stream, resulting in lower quality recycled material that is not able to be sold for reuse and ends up as waste. This bill will lead to vast improvements in community and residential recycling programs.

The RECYCLE Act would:

  • Authorize $15 million/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 provides recommended practices for federal agencies to purchase such products.

The RECYCLE Act has broad support from environmental groups, industry groups, and other nonprofits, including: The Recycling Partnership, National Association of Manufacturers, Solid Waste Association of North America, National Waste & Recycling Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Beverage Association, American Chemistry Council, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Paper Recycling Coalition, American Forest & Paper Association, Can Manufacturers Institute, The Association of Plastic Recyclers, Plastics Industry Association, Glass Packaging Institute, Procter & Gamble, Owens-Illinois, Reserve Management Group, Resinate Materials Group, KW Plastics, Evangelical Environmental Network, Advanced Drainage Systems, Construction and Demolition Recycling Association, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Wildlife Conservation Society.