US House Committee on Energy and Commerce to consider RECOVER Act
U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce will consider the RECOVER Act.
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US House Committee on Energy and Commerce to consider RECOVER Act

H.R. 5115 calls for federal grants for state and local governments to expand curbside recycling options.

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November 15, 2019

U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas and Larry Bucshon used America Recycles Day to introduce the Realizing the Economic Opportunities and Value of Expanding Recycling (RECOVER) Act. A coalition of partners, led by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), support House Bill 5115 (H.R. 5115), which would allocate federal grants to states and municipalities to invest in improving recycling programs and infrastructure, including upgrading material recovery facilities and other plants that receive and process recyclables, and enhancing the recovery and collection of material.

In addition to establishing a $500 million matching grants program to support and expand the recycling programs and infrastructure, the RECOVER Act would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to submit a report to Congress no later than two years after the date of enactment of this legislation on measures taken toward implementation, according to a news release issued by Cárdenas office. Moreover, the bill precludes the use of EPA funds for incineration.

According to Cárdenas’ Facebook post about H.R. 5115, the bill also would support public-private partnerships to increases materials recovery, direct grant money to consumer education on recycling practices and encourage the development of rural recycling programs.

“This bipartisan, commonsense bill is a smart solution to a growing problem,” Cárdenas says. “The RECOVER Act encourages local and state governments to invest in recycling programs and new technologies to increase collection rates and promote consumer education. This grant would support public-private partnerships and will help communities across the nation to expand and modernize our country’s recycling infrastructure. This bill would create new jobs, boosts our economy and, ultimately, it is good for American families and the environment.”

Bucshon says, “As the father of four kids, it is important to me to leave future generations with a cleaner environment than the one we inherited from our parents and grandparents. One of the ways that we have been successful in cleaning up our nation’s environment is by encouraging greater numbers of Americans to recycle waste items instead of discarding them in landfills.

"Today, our nation is facing a recycling crisis due to inadequate infrastructure and the inability to keep up with waste stream contamination," he continues. "Without the proper recycling infrastructure in place, we will not have the capacity needed to recycle waste items and they will either end up in a landfill, our oceans or elsewhere in the environment as litter."

Bucshon adds, "On America Recycles Day, I am proud to join Congressman Cárdenas in introducing the RECOVER Act, which will help promote greater investment in recycling infrastructure and consumer education to ensure our nation has the recycling infrastructure needed to continue allowing Americans to recycle waste items instead of sending them to the landfill.”

H.R. 5115 would establish a recycling infrastructure program within the EPA and put federal funding toward building new recycling technology and programs to help increase collection rates, improve the sortation and separation of materials, enhance the performance of curbside collection and more, its supporters say.

“We applaud Reps. Cárdenas and Bucshon for introducing a bill that will improve our recycling systems and educate Americans on the importance of reclaiming valuable materials and repurposing them for greater use,” says Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, Washington. “This bipartisan bill will help address the infrastructure shortcomings that can contribute to recyclable materials ending up in our oceans and waterways and we look forward to working with the representatives to move it forward. We are thankful to the coalition members who helped in the development of the bill because improving our recycling infrastructure is necessary for all materials.”

“Prioritizing recycling requires bipartisan support,” says Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), Arlington, Virginia. “The Glass Packaging Institute applauds Reps. Cárdenas and Bucshon for their leadership in introducing this important legislation. The RECOVER Act is a proposal both parties can get behind as it grows American manufacturing jobs with a public-private matching infrastructure investment package.”

He adds, “Recycling efforts, including those focused on glass recycling, need federal support to help the system reboot and handle modern waste stream challenges. This bill—and the jobs and economic and environmental benefits it will create and support—is a viable part of a solution to bolstering domestic recycling endeavors while making an impact on sustainability from coast to coast.”

In addition to the Plastics Industry Association and GPI, other supporters of the legislation include the American Chemistry Council, American Frozen Food Institute, AMERIPEN, Berry Global, EREMA, Flexible Packaging Association, Foodservice Packaging Institute, International Bottled Water Association, Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc., National Waste & Recycling Association, The Recycling Partnership, SNAC International, Solid Waste Association of North America, Sustainable Packaging Coalition/GreenBlue, Unilever and The Vinyl Institute.

“I am in full support of the RECOVER Act,” says Chairman and CEO of Evansville, Indiana-based Berry Global Tom Salmon. “The time is now to enhance our country’s recycling system through improvements in infrastructure and education at all levels – national, state, and local. Increasing recycling access and material recovery is the first step towards moving to a truly circular economy.”

The Plastics Industry Association has more information on its recycling infrastructure priorities at http://plasticsindustry.org/advocacy/infrastructure/recycling-infrastructure-priorities.