Recycling industry leaders visit Washington

One hundred twenty-five executives from leading scrap recycling companies throughout the country took to Capitol Hill on July 21 to support the scrap recycling industry’s agenda on key legislative and regulatory issues.

The executives, in Washington to attend the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Summer Board and Committee meetings, called on more than 175 members of Congress all in one day to help convey to those members the positive role that scrap recycling plays in the nation’s economic and environmental well being, with the $54 billion industry employing over 100,000 people and providing $21.4 billion worth of exports to 154 countries worldwide. Recycling is a climate-friendly activity that saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and conserves natural resources.

Industry executives also stressed the importance of the Senate and House Recycling Caucuses, which together include more than 150 members of both political parties, providing a permanent infrastructure to help educate members of Congress and their staffs about the economic and environmental benefits of recycling, as well as providing a forum for exploring opportunities for promoting and encouraging recycling in legislation. As a result of the Congressional visits, several members of the House and Senate pledged to join the Congressional Recycling Caucuses.

Other topics included:

•Climate change – industry voiced its support for an amendment to any energy/climate change legislation to remove impediments to recycling and encourage greater collection and consumption of recyclables through incentives to recycling and building broader public awareness and support for recycling. The amendment has been included in most prior climate legislation and enjoys bi-partisan support.

•Electronics exports – The industry expressed its support for the export of electronics in an environmentally responsible manner. Industry leaders emphasized that ISRI has adopted a new electronics recycling export policy that strongly condemns “sham” recycling, as well as exports to countries and facilities that lack the expertise to handle electronic scrap properly, as well as banning the export of electronics for landfilling or incineration for disposal. The new ISRI policy requires robust downstream due diligence on facilities outside the United States that recycle or refurbish electronics, as well as requiring verifiable environmental, health and safety management systems.

•Materials theft – The industry is fully committed to combating materials theft and working with law enforcement, community leaders and affected businesses. ISRI has implemented programs, such as and “Do Not Buy” lists, and established outreach efforts designed to effectively reduce the number of thefts. Industry leaders also noted that ISRI supports pragmatic legislation that effectively combats the issues surrounding materials theft, especially if it includes provisions to prevent the theft of these materials in the first place.

•IRS reporting requirements – the expanded requirement to issue 1099s to purchases of property in excess of $600 in addition to the current requirement for services (contained in the health care legislation passed earlier this year) presents serious concerns about proper implementation, including data security, enforcement, and liability issues.

•Surface transportation board – reforming the Surface Transportation Board to enforce the railroad industry’s obligations to serve its customers and provide cost-effective approaches to help shippers.