The Solid Waste Association of America (SWANA) has submitted a written statement to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works (EPW) concerning some of the challenges facing recycling in the United States.
The statement is in conjunction with the committee’s oversight hearing today, “Responding to the Challenges Facing Recycling in the United States.” Coincidentally, this week also marks three years since China announced its National Sword program.
According to SWANA, the written statement focused on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on recycling programs and facilities, noting the decrease in recovered material from commercial customers such as schools, offices and stores. At the same time, SWANA described how residential waste and recycling volume increased nationwide in March and April, though it has declined from the peak of about twenty percent higher than normal.
Other impacts identified in SWANA’s written testimony included operational changes at recycling facilities to keep workers safe, the temporary suspension of some curbside collection programs and additional personal protective equipment provided by employers in response to concerns about exposure expressed by front-line workers.
SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman stated, “We are pleased to provide SWANA’s perspective on the current challenges facing municipal and private sector recycling programs, including the impacts of COVID and continued concerns about contamination. We have been working closely with Congress, EPA, and other recycling stakeholders on these issues, and look forward to continuing to do so in the months to come.”
The association described its support for various legislative proposals that would provide federal funding and support for local recycling programs, including Save Our Seas 2.0, which the Senate unanimously approved in January. It also urged EPW and others to hold EPA to its commitment to issue national recycling goals in fall 2020 and ensure that recycling workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment and priority for COVID-19 testing.