The crucial role of recycling to the US economy has been spelled out at the annual State of Recycling Briefing to coincide with America Recycles Day on 15 November.
The briefing was held virtually for the first time because of Covid-19. Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, told those attending the event that the pandemic had ‘triggered an awakening of the importance of recycling’. She said it was the first link in the manufacturing supply chain and that had been acknowledged by the authorities.
‘The Federal Government, with most states following, quickly recognised that the supply of recyclable ferrous and nonferrous metals, paper, plastics, electronics, glass and rubber needed in critical manufacturing are essential, enabling recycling facilities to continue operating through the pandemic. All told, recycling operations are an essential part of critical manufacturers’ supply chain, supplying 40% (on average across all commodities) of their raw material needs.’
The event also included contributions from politicians, officials and association representatives. Wiener reminded them that simple, effective education was needed to raise awareness among consumers of the importance of recycling and its essential role in manufacturing.
‘More programmes are needed to ensure that consumers understand the need to recycle and to recycle right. Before the pandemic started, recyclers were investing in equipment and new technologies to produce higher grades of recyclables with greater efficiency. ISRI asks for Congress’ support of continued federal funding for US government-led public-private partnerships focused on research and development of innovative technologies.’
Such initiatives, she added, would provide new opportunities for the use of recyclable materials in manufacturing. ‘As we hopefully enter a period of economic recovery, it is becoming very apparent that the continuous operations of the recycling industry was instrumental in the encouraging signs of increased activity in the US manufacturing economy.’
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