EPA Challenges Americans to Reduce, Recycle and Reuse

Austin, TX - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off the "Resource Conservation Challenge" at the National Recycling Coalition's 21st Annual Congress and Exposition in Austin, Texas. The Challenge is a call for all Americans to step up and take renewed responsibility for the impact their actions have on the environment.

EPA asks businesses to operate more efficiently, consumers to purchase more wisely, and manufacturers to produce more responsibly. In return, EPA will offer the necessary tools, assistance and outreach to help Americans succeed in this new campaign against waste.

The Challenge

EPA is calling on Americans to help meet or beat two goals by 2005:

  • Increase the national recycling rate to at least 35 percent.
  • Cut the generation of 30 priority chemicals in hazardous waste by 50 percent. These are chemicals that are among the most harmful to public health and the environment.

EPA is asking Americans to take the following actions at home and at work: Adopt a resource conservation ethic; Operate more efficiently; Purchase wisely; Reuse products whenever possible; Recycle one more pound of waste per day.

The Tools

EPA has programs and initiatives in place to ensure that Americans have the tools at home and at work to build on the existing achievements, and meet and exceed the goals set out before them.

The Resource Conservation Challenge comes on the heels of real progress in reducing consumer and business waste. For example, existing partnership programs helped businesses reduce over 35 million tons of municipal solid waste from 1994-1999, similar to removing 19 million cars from the road for a year.

As Americans build on this success and take their environmental ethic from work, to home and back, EPA will do its part to support those actions that will contribute to meeting the three goals of the Challenge. These efforts include:

Waste Minimization Partnership Program: A new, voluntary effort that challenges businesses to commit to reducing generation of hazardous chemicals. Founding partners include American Video Glass, Corning Asahi, Dow Chemical Corp., International Truck and Engine, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing. By 2005, EPA plans to recruit 100 small and large business partners into the program.

Product Stewardship and Technology: Electronics are the fastest-growing part of the waste stream- EPA works to join electronics manufacturers, recyclers, retailers, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations to promote recycling of used electronics and help manufacturers design more environmentally sound products.

Education, Training and Assistance: EPA provides services to help businesses, government, institutions and tribes become more efficient. Efforts include individual site visits; permit flexibility; developing software and courses; and creating and distributing outreach materials on waste reduction and recycling

Reaching Underserved Communities: EPA is working to raise environmental awareness among youth and schools and has increased outreach in Hispanic, African-American and Native American communities to encourage waste reduction, recycling and neighborhood revitalization.