WASHINGTON – Last night, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Co-Chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus, celebrated the unanimous Senate approval of a resolution that expresses support for improvement in the collection, processing and use of recyclable materials throughout the United States. Joining Sens. Carper and Snowe on the resolution are Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Tom Udall (D- N.M.). On Tuesday – America Recycles Day – Sen. Carper attended the BlueGreen Alliance briefing on the economic and environmental benefits of growing America's recycling industry.
The resolution reinforces the importance of recycling to the U.S. economy. It is estimated that recycling processors directly or indirectly employ over 450,000 Americans in local communities throughout the United States. These jobs account for more than $90 billion in economic output or roughly 0.6 percent of United States' Gross Domestic Product, which is more than the fishing and forestry industries combined. Additionally, as expressed in the resolution, recycling is a key component of the U.S. manufacturing industry.
The resolution also highlights the environmental benefits of recycling. Recycling not only safeguards natural resources and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, but also saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the use of recycled aluminum can save as much as 92 percent of the energy that would have been needed to make that product from virgin material.
"Increasing the amount we recycle is a simple, yet effective way to help our economy and our environment by better managing our limited resources," said Sen. Carper. "Since the first Earth Day in 1970, our country has greatly improved our recycling habits. From 1970 to 2000, we increased our collective municipal recycling rate from just 6 percent to over 28 percent. Yet in the past decade, our country's improvement in our recycling behavior has slowed. Anything I do, I know I can do better, and I know that our nation can continue to do better when it comes to recycling. I thank Sen. Snowe and our other Senate colleagues for their support of recycling and for their recognition of its tremendous value to our economy and our environment."
"Recycling is one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods to saving energy, reducing landfill waste, and supplying our manufacturing and construction industries with low-cost materials," said Sen. Snowe. "Recycling is a major industry in the United States and we should continue to encourage the companies that are improving our environment and employing Americans. I commend Senator Carper for his efforts to promote recycling and look forward to the ongoing benefits recycling provides our environment and our economy."
Numerous organizations have endorsed the resolution, including Paper Recycling Coalition (PRC), Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), The Aluminum Association, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Recycling Organizations of North America, Environmental Paper Network (EPN), Container Recycling Institute, International Bottled Water Association, Keep America Beautiful, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Sustainable Design Labs, Green Press Initiative, Ecology Center.