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Portman, Stabenow introduce RECYCLE Act to improve recycling

WASHINGTON,
D.C. – Friday, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow
(D-MI) introduced new legislation – S. 2941, the RECYCLE Act – to create
a new federal grant program through the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to help educate households and consumers about their residential
and community recycling programs. This legislation will help increase
recycling rates and reduce contamination in the recycling stream. U.S.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Todd Young (R-IN)
are original cosponsors of this legislation.

Reports have
indicated that consumer confusion on how to properly recycle is one of
the top recycling challenges, and that education and outreach both
increase participation in recycling and decrease 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, which presents a
big opportunity to improve our nation’s recycling systems. In addition,
recycling offers numerous environmental and economic benefits,
including diverting materials from landfills, using less energy to
reprocess recycled material – which reduces emissions – and creating
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.

“Education and outreach is a key pillar to improving
recycling rates and reducing contamination in our recycling stream,”
said Senator Portman. “Reports have indicated that one-third of
materials that households put into their recycling bins end up in
landfills and are not actually recycled. This is in part because there
is confusion about what can actually be recycled, which leads to
contamination of materials that could otherwise be recycled but instead
are landfilled. Education is a key component in both increasing the
amount of material that is being recycled and ensuring that the material
being put into community and residential recycling programs is actually
being recycled. I am pleased to be introducing the RECYCLE Act with
Senator Stabenow today, and look forward to working with my colleagues
to get it across the finish line.”

“To improve recycling rates
across our country, local communities must have the right tools to
recycle in an effective way. Senator Portman and I introduced this bill
to help households understand what can and cannot be recycled and invest
in programs that improve recycling practices across the country,” said
Senator Stabenow.

“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.”

“Recycling is in Oregon’s DNA, dating
back to our state’s pioneering ‘bottle bill.’ But with so many things to
sort and constantly evolving rules, recycling often becomes a headache
for even the most seasoned or best intentioned consumer,” Senator Wyden
said. “The RECYCLE Act empowers Americans to recycle with ease and avoid
contamination that often causes recyclable materials to end up in the
landfill. A little bit of clarity will go a long way towards helping the
conscientious consumer and strengthening domestic recycling markets.”

“By
providing education opportunities, we can increase the rate of
recycling which benefits both our environment and local communities. The
state of Indiana has prioritized expanding recycling education, and I’m
proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan legislation,”
said Senator Young.

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.

Supporters include: 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.

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