Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) President Robin Wiener moderated a panel of other recycling industry stakeholders who addressed the U.S. Senate Recycling Caucus in mid-November. The briefing highlighted the current state of the U.S. recycling industry.
In addition to Wiener, the panel before the Senate Recycling Caucus included Stephanie Baker of KW Plastics, Zach Freeze of Walmart, Ben Harvey of E.L. Harvey & Sons and Annie White of the D.C. Department of Public Works’ Office of Waste Diversion.
Wiener told the caucus that recycling “offers real solutions for balancing economic growth and environmental stewardship.”
However, she added, “China’s actions exposed a number of weaknesses in certain segments of the U.S. recycling infrastructure, particularly with regard to the residential stream.”
"Collaboration among various stakeholders is necessary if recycling is to be successful.”
Wiener continued by saying that “innovation has always played an important role in advancing recycling. Many recyclers have already begun to change processes and invest in technologies to produce higher grades. But that takes time and money. Investments within the U.S. market are also being made by paper and plastics consumers and will result in increased demand for scrap in the coming years. European and Chinese investors are also moving into the U.S. market to more easily source high-quality U.S. scrap.”
Much of the innovation seen in the industry is a result of public-private partnerships, she said. Many other recycling industry representatives also say that collaboration among various stakeholders is necessary if recycling is to be successful, and we’ve seen numerous examples of this in recent years, with consumer product companies helping to fund investments in recycling.
“Keeping recycling strong in the U.S. requires a continual focus on quality, consumer awareness and market access and demand growth,” Wiener said. “ISRI is working with our industry and community partners across the country to address many of these challenges” and to strengthen U.S. recycling infrastructure, she added.
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