At the 2019 Plastics Industry Fly-In, the men and women of the U.S. plastics industry made the case for greater recycling infrastructure. In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, dozens of representatives from the nation’s third largest manufacturing sector advocated for increased investment in the equipment, systems and other technologies that would enable the U.S. recycling industry to capture and recycle more plastic materials—a solution that would preserve the value of plastic products while addressing serious environmental challenges like litter and marine debris.

These calls were echoed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Plastics Industry Fly-In. In his remarks to attendees, Wheeler emphasized the administration’s commitment to infrastructure reform that includes recycling and waste management.

“We all agree that we need to address marine litter, but we need to address it in an effective and precise manner,” said Wheeler. “Plastics have revolutionized the way we live, often in ways we don’t even realize. … to really solve this problem, we must stop the trash from reaching our oceans. This means improving waste management and recycling.

“I don’t believe that we have to choose between plastics or clean oceans,” Wheeler added. “We can have both.”

“With legislation forthcoming, the U.S. plastics industry is all-in for increasing our nation’s capacity to recycle plastic products that consumers rely on.”

A tide is building in support of better, improved infrastructure that will enable the plastics industry to collect and recycle more plastic materials. The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has been leading an effort to rally support among all materials to modernize the nation’s recycling and waste management infrastructure, and our efforts have begun to bear fruit.

With legislation forthcoming, the U.S. plastics industry is all-in for increasing our nation’s capacity to recycle plastic products that consumers rely on. We need to ensure that waste disposal and recycling infrastructure are part of the overall national conversation around investing in our country’s infrastructure. We look forward to working with public officials and other stakeholders across the country to focus our collective efforts on long-term solutions that enable the proper disposal and recycling of plastic products.

Patty Long is the interim president & CEO of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), Washington. She can be contacted at plong@plasticsindustry.org.