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Source: US Environment Protection Agency

News Releases from Headquarters

Agency challenges Americans to increase national recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030

11/17/2020

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WASHINGTON (November 17, 2020) ⁠— Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler convened EPA’s third annual America Recycles Summit to discuss the draft National Recycling Strategy and unveil a modern, ambitious National Recycling Goal to increase the national recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030. The Summit engaged leaders from across the recycling system to continue building on the success initiated over the last three years since EPA’s first America Recycles Summit.

“In celebration of America Recycles Day, I am proud to announce the national goal to increase the U.S. recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This ambitious national recycling goal will help guide investments and commitments from across the recycling system.”

“Without national leadership on this issue, recycling has lingered in the low 30 percent range for the last twenty years. The economic and environmental benefits from recycling are clear, and we’ve made a lot of progress, but much more needs to be done to obtain the benefits of increasing the national recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030,” said EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “We appreciate every organization that has submitted comments on our draft National Recycling Strategy, participated in the recycling stakeholder groups over the last three years, and every organization that has issued a public commitment to continue to help us reach the national goal.”

The agency recognizes that collective commitments are best achieved when we have a common goal. EPA challenges Americans – businesses, communities, and individuals – to embrace EPA’s National Recycling Goal to help our collective efforts to improve the nation’s recycling system, create more jobs, and conserve our natural resources.

In addition to announcing the National Recycling Goal, Summit participants discussed the draft National Recycling Strategy. The draft strategy identifies targeted objectives to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. recycling system.

Administrator Wheeler encouraged the public to comment on how EPA can measure progress and the actions needed to achieve these three key objectives in the draft National Recycling Strategy: 

  1. Reduce Contamination in Recycling: Reducing the percentage of the wrong materials in the recycling stream helps ensure clean recyclable materials, such as paper, glass or plastic, can be processed and made into new products. 
  2. Make Our Recycling Processing System More Efficient: Making our processing system more efficient will help more of the material that is intended to be recycled get recycled. 
  3. Strengthen the Economic Markets for Recycled Materials: Strengthening the economic markets for recycled materials will help manufacturers make more products using recycled materials and encourage demand from consumers for more products that are made with recycled materials. 

The draft National Recycling Strategy is open for public comment until December 4. When finalized, the strategy will serve as a roadmap for achieving the National Recycling Goal.

Background

Recycling is a key driver of the U.S. economy and a way to conserve resources and protect the environment. Environmental benefits include reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, which can reduce the amount of air emissions released into the atmosphere; conserving natural resources, such as timber, water and critical minerals; and preventing pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials. Economic and community benefits include increasing economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials; supporting American manufacturing; conserving valuable resources; and creating jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.

Since November of 2018, more than 290 organizations have signed the America Recycles Pledge, in which EPA and the signers commit to working together to promote education and outreach, enhance materials management infrastructure, strengthen secondary materials markets, and improve measurement.

Participants in the 2020 Summit represented a broad range of U.S.-based organizations, including manufacturers and retailers; federal, state, tribal and local governments; non-profit organizations; and industry trade associations, as well as regional perspectives from across the country. Summit topics included bolstering markets for recyclables, improving strategies for reducing contamination in recycling, and enhancing recycling strategies in tribes and territories.

Yesterday, EPA hosted the second America Recycles: Innovation Fair to virtually showcase state-of-the-art products, services, outreach, and technologies from more than 40 entrepreneurs from across the recycling system. The Innovation Fair had 42 exhibitors, over 6600 booth visits, and about 850 visitors. Exhibitors featured strategies such as deploying artificial intelligence robots to enhance operations at recycling facilities; using hard-to-recycle plastics in 3D printing materials; installing small system sorting units in stadiums and small communities; creating new construction materials from hard-to-recycle plastics; and using automated technology and recycled glass bottles to create new glassware.

For more information on the Innovation Fair and Summit, visit: www.epa.gov/AmericaRecycles.

To comment on the draft National Recycling Strategy, visit: https://www.epa.gov/americarecycles/national-recycling-strategy-and-framework-advancing-us-recycling-system.

EPA encourages interested U.S.-based organizations to get involved and sign the America Recycles pledge: https://www.epa.gov/americarecycles/forms/america-recycles-pledge.

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