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November 2006

Commitment needed to revive recycling in America: Jeffords

A national commitment to revive recycling is needed and Congress will play a key role in that effort, says United States Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT).

“Congress should develop a national strategy for recycling,” says Jeffords, who is retiring from Senate.

Jeffords believes that a successful legislative program to increase recycling rates and establish a recycling infrastructure should contain the following elements:

•Incentives that will develop and expand equipment used in the recycling process.

“The shortage of usable recyclable materials is widespread and particularly acute in the plastic, glass, aluminum, steel and paper sectors,” he said. “The United States recycling rate for many commodities is declining.”

•A national “bottle bill” recovery program that provides money for the return of beverage containers.

“Currently,” he says, “eleven states have bottle deposit laws. These states have attained beverage container recovery rates of roughly 72 percent. Conversely, states without deposit legislation have recovery rates close to 28 percent.”

•Incentives for the greater collection and proper recycling of electronic waste.

“Four states have banned landfill disposal of cathode ray tubes and three states have passed electronic waste legislation,” he says. “Twenty-six other states reportedly are considering electronic waste legislation. Some retailers and manufacturers have created voluntary recycling programs to deal with this problem. This patchwork of state regulation and limited industry involvement is not sufficient to address the expected growth in electronic waste. I’m also concerned that it could place unnecessary costs on manufacturers if forced to comply with inconsistent state regulations.”

•Public education on the benefits of recycling and proper recycling.

•Grant funding to develop new technologies for recycling and for innovative recycling projects to promote and increase recycling.

Last July, Jeffords, along with Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), introduced the Recycling Investment Saves Energy (RISE) Act of 2006, which offers tax incentives that will create jobs, conserve energy and expand America’s recycling capacity.

“I hope that the RISE Act of 2006 will be passed during the 110th Congress,” says Jeffords. “An earlier version of RISE was incorporated as Section 1545 of the Senate Energy Bill last year, but did not survive conference committee.”

He notes that the bill is supported by a wide coalition of over 35 industry, governmental, and environmental organizations, including the National Recycling Coalition, Inc.; U.S. Conference of Mayors/Municipal Waste Management Association; National Solid Wastes Management Association; Glass Packaging Institute; Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.; the Coca Cola Company, and the American Beverage Association.

“The RISE Act of 2006 allows companies to claim either a tax credit or accelerated depreciation for the purchase of equipment used to collect, distribute or recycle a variety of commodities,” says Jeffords. “The bill also clarifies the term ‘solid waste facilities’ under Section 142 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that recycling facilities are eligible for tax-exempt bond financing under this section.”

Jeffords has also brought forward national bottle bills, which did not receive committee approval.

“I am hopeful that legislation similar to my previous bills will be introduced and enacted next session,” he says. “National bottle bill legislation has not been enacted due to opposition from the beverage industry. They have blocked all efforts to compromise over the course of decades.”

But Jeffords remains positive that Congress will enact legislation, stressing that recycling and environmental issues should not be seen as bi-partisan and that Democratic and Republican legislators are working together to develop legislation.

“Recycling means business and it is good for the environment and the economy,” says Jeffords. “Recycling is a bi-partisan issue and we can get a majority of Congress to support recycling legislation next session. Last June, Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) created a Senate Recycling Caucus, which will seek to encourage and motivate businesses to recycle. A House Recycling Caucus, which was formed earlier this year, is co-chaired by Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).”

Jeffords is confident that there is a public willingness to assume responsibility for recycling across the nation and that industry is willing to pitch in.

“The American people are willing to make recycling work in their communities,” he says. “Recycling is good for business and the environment. The challenge is to make it convenient and cost effective. The public, industry and retailers need financial incentives to make recycling work. These financial incentives could be in the form of tax relief, cash for bottle recovery, and reduced waste disposal bills.”


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