Commitment needed to revive recycling in America:
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).
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
•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
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
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.”