Attendees of the webinar heard from five speakers who work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including Cheryl Coleman, Ron Vance and Ksenija Janjic. Association of Plastic Recyclers President and CEO Steve Alexander also spoke, as well as Judy Sheahan with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
First, Coleman spoke about the need for strong recycling across the country, adding that the industry contributes more than $36 billion in wages and 750,000 jobs. “Most Americans want to recycle, but confusion exists about how to recycle,” Coleman said.
This year, Coleman said the EPA would like to create more national recycling goals with stakeholders through more education and outreach, enhancing material management infrastructure, strengthening secondary material markets and enhancing measurement.
Alexander spoke next, sharing the outlook for plastics recycling. He said a few goals include increasing domestic demand for recycled plastics, helping prevent “ocean plastics” through higher domestic demand and mitigating the reliance on exports.
From a local perspective, Sheahan shared what mayors within the U.S. Conference of Mayors are doing to better recycling on their level. Although many cities are scaling back or cutting off recycling now, she said that doesn’t mean they want to do that, rather it’s just something that needs to be done right now.
“If we could build a more circular economy, where one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, it would be an ideal situation,” she said.
Vance spoke about the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline Program (CPG), created to designate items that are or can be made from recovered materials. Right now, there are 61 items within eight categories. He shared more about updating that list and how the EPA plans to do so, and that’s where Janjic’s presentation took over.
Since the list hasn’t seen any updates since 2007, Janjic shared how the public and others can offer comment on current CPGs and make suggestions for others. Those comments are able to be made through early July, then the EPA will announce any changes.