On March 23, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Representatives David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), reintroduced the RECYCLE Act, to create a new federal grant recycling program through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are original cosponsors of this legislation. If passed, the legislation would enhance public educational efforts around proper recycling and update the federal procurement process to strengthen demand for recyclable material.

ISRI supported the bill in 2019 and commends its introduction to the 117th Congress. The bi-partisan and bicameral legislation “provides public awareness, education, and much needed clarity for residential recycling programs in the United States,” says Billy Johnson, ISRI’s chief lobbyist.

Reports indicate a big challenge for the recycling industry is consumer confusion surrounding proper recycling. At the same time, consumers do want to recycle, Johnson notes. “Studies show Americans want to recycle … and more importantly … recycle right,” he says. The RECYCLE Act should provide a solution to the problem as the bill would authorize $15 million per year in grants over five years to states, local governments, Native American tribes, nonprofits, and public-private partnerships to educate and inform consumers and households about their residential and community recycling programs.

The RECYCLE Act would require the EPA to develop a model recycling program toolkit for states, local governments, Native American tribes, and partners to use to improve recycling rates and decrease contamination in the recycling stream. Lowering contamination in residential recycling would benefit the recycling industry, “and as a result, help build sustainable markets for these valuable materials,” says Johnson.

The bill also specifies the EPA must frequently review and revise, if appropriate, its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, which designate products containing recycled materials and provides recommended practices for federal agencies to purchase such products.


Stay up to date on political issues affecting recycling by attending Recycling in the 117th Congress, a session that will be held at ISRI2021, ISRI’s virtual convention, from 2:45 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 20. Click here to register for ISRI2021.

Image courtesy of Dano, via Flickr


Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah is a Writer & Editor for ISRI's Scrap News. She's interested in a wide range of topics in the recycling industry and is always eager to learn more. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in History and a minored in Creative Writing. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband.