Improving American Recycling Efforts

In the years that I have served in public office, recycling has also become a top priority for me, as well as a true passion. I love recycling because it helps us preserve our limited resources and reduce our landfill input, all while creating creating good-paying, American jobs. For a small state like Delaware, recycling is particularly important because of the limited space our state has for landfills.

Today, we see that our resources – financial and natural – have been stretched, and stretched in some instances to their limits. We need solutions to managing our resources that are win-wins for our economy and our environment. Recycling is one of these win-win solutions.

Recycling Fast Facts

  • Despite only representing 5% of the world population, the U.S. generates more waste than any other country in the world.
  • According to EPA, in 2014 alone, about 258 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste were generated in the United States.  Only about 34.6 percent of that amount (over 89 million tons) was recycled or composted.
  • Recycling is a $200 billion industry in the United States, creates valuable resources for U.S. manufacturing, and is a highly valuable export to countries such as China and India.
  • Around 66 percent of energy can be saved by producing plastic products from recycled plastics instead of virgin materials. 
  • Every year, roughly 1 billion trees worth of paper are discarded in the U.S.
  • If all of us here in the U.S. increased by just 10% the amount that we recycled, we could conserve enough energy to heat 7.5 million homes or provide electricity to 2.5 million Americans, nearly three times as many residents as we have in Delaware.

Senate Recycling Caucus

The Senate Recycling Caucus was founded by Senator Carper and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in 2006. The Recycling Caucus aims to educate Senate members and staff on the need for recycling, the benefits of recycling to the U.S. economy and environment, and to support public policies aimed at increasing recycling across the country.

In the 115th Congress, the members of the Senate Recycling Caucus are:

John Boozman – Co-Chair (R-Arkansas)

Tom Carper – Co-Chair (D-Del.)

Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)

Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

John Tester (D-Mont.)

James Risch (R-Idaho)

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

John Thune (R-S.D.)

Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

John Cornyn (R-Texas)

Maria Cantwell D-Wash.)

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)