Here’s why part one of the EPA’s National Recycling Strategy doesn’t go far enough

Jose Angel Astor Rocha | Shutterstock.com

The first part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recycling plan wasn’t quite the win we had hoped for.

On Nov. 17, the EPA finalized part one of its National Recycling Strategy, which seeks to build a more circular economy by allowing citizens easier access to recycling. The plan includes five objectives: improving markets for recycled commodities, increasing collection and improving materials management infrastructure, reducing contamination in the recycled materials stream, enhancing policies and programs to support circularity and standardize measurement, and increasing data collection.

But given that less than 10% of our plastic waste is recycled, none of those strategies accounts for the reality that if we truly hope to get our plastic waste crisis under control, we just need to use less of the stuff to begin with.

“While the EPA has good intentions, part one of its new recycling strategy doesn’t adequately address the fact that we produce too much non-recyclable waste in the first place,” said PIRG’s Zero Waste Campaign Director Alex Truelove. “Hopefully the next steps will focus on promoting reduction and reuse so that Americans will waste less and recycle more. That’s the best way to cultivate a circular economy that benefits every American.”

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Photo: While the first step of the EPA’s National Recycling Strategy was underwhelming, PIRG hopes subsequent steps will better address how we can reduce and reuse. Credit: Jose Angel Astor Roja via Shutterstock

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Aaron Colonnese

Content Creator, Editorial & Creative Team, The Public Interest Network

Aaron writes and designs materials with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network for U.S. PIRG. Aaron lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and spends his spare time playing drums and going for long walks.

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