Ladies and gentleman, watch the first-ever EPA Recycling Summit in the United States. Strange that it should take China pulling out of the market for them to take this topic of recycling seriously.  Scroll down to watch the video of this very interesting 2-hour conversation.

How much media coverage did this miraculous event receive?

None. The video has 457 views on YouTube.

“The event carried the weight of historic import — yet for all the fanfare, it drew limited media coverage. Beyond a short piece the day after, Waste Dive has also struggled to evaluate the proceedings. ” writes Waste Dive in their coverage piece called: EPA Recycling Summit highlights lack of national responsibility

The America Recycles Day event was considered historic for the breadth of stakeholders it assembled, but with so many different ideas of success, will it be possible to make meaningful change?

What was the event?

Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler convened the first ever EPA Recycling Summit bringing together leaders from industry and all levels of government to discuss opportunities to advance and strengthen the domestic recycling industry and markets.

Forty-four people signed a voluntary pledge in a photo-op with with Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Who is the EPA?

In the United States the governing body for national environmental policies is called the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Why is it such a big deal?

For an industry like recycling that has existed for well over 30 years – it is extremely scary that no serious attention has been paid to it yet by the EPA. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has never had a summit bringing everyone in the supply chain together. Possibly not even the entire recycling industry suite.

It is bewildering that the people and firms who collect, sort, process, and broker old materials (your recycling) to be marketable to other countires in America who provide 700,000+ adults with good jobs in the United States and generate approximately $116.97 billion annually in economic activity (read the 2017 Economic Impact Study for Recycling in the US) have never had a meeting with the entire supply chain – as in: the Coca-Cola’s, Proctor & Gamble, those who market recycling and waste management???????

In fact, it is only because China – their largest buyer of these materials has pulled the plug on accepting any kind of recycling from other nations that does not meet a stringent contamination rate of .05%. Essentially, almost none of American recycling industry can meet those standards, therefore the market is now in a so-called blip. It’s finally sinking in for everyone. The money train in recycling is NOTHING without China. China making it’s decision is after many years of asking exporting nations to ensure it was cleaner. All nations did nothing. They didn’t believe China would actually stand up for cleaner standards. This means everyone is in a pinch now and the entire apparatus is in jeopordy when you lose your largest buyer sometimes buying 80-90% of US recycling.

What was creating revenue is now a cost-center. For example, card-board was a $75 per ton, now it’s zero. Plastic pricing was not mentioned, but it’s in the negatives.

Who was invited to meet at the summit?

  • Waste management
  • Municipalities
  • Recycling collection, sorting and sales businesses from steel to plastic.
  • Big consumer goods companies like P&G and Coca-Cola.
  • Plastics manufacturers
  • Non-profits and campaign managers that market recycling on behalf of the government – for example: “Make America Beautiful”

Almost everyone that is involved from the designers of packaging, to the companies who sell the stuff, to the consumers who use it, to the people who collect it, to the people who sell it….of course, ZERO representation from their ex-buyer China.

I will be adding a list of the attendee’s who spoke with their name and title to this blog later.

Here is a video recording of the entire very interesting conversation and more about this summit below:

 

On America Recycles Day, EPA released “Recycling: Protecting the environment and growing the economy” highlighting EPA’s recycling efforts across programs at the Agency and its ten Regions. The packet also outlines opportunities for solutions to recycling challenges including: creating a more resilient recycling system capable of withstanding disruptions; supporting more competitive manufacturing by converting materials that are currently managed as waste into valuable raw materials; maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness in the future; identifying opportunities for investment in municipal recycling facilities to recover more material; and creating jobs.

To read the full packet, please go here.

To read the Presidential Message released for America Recycles Day, please go here.

For more information on recycling and America Recycles Day, please go here.