Momentum Builds for Bipartisan Recycling Legislation at PLASTICS Spring Meeting

May 19, 2021

WASHINGTON – At the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) Spring Meeting this week, U.S. Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) provided an encouraging update on bipartisan efforts to reduce plastic waste and improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry. The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act (HR 2821) was introduced last month by Representative Stevens and U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). The bipartisan legislation establishes a plastic waste reduction and recycling research and development program, calls on the Federal government to develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction, and calls for the development of standards for plastics recycling technologies.

“We were thrilled to have Representative Stevens speak to our member companies and provide an update about the path forward for commonsense, bipartisan legislation to improve recycling in America,” said PLASTICS President & CEO Tony Radoszewski. “It’s so encouraging to hear that that energy is building behind such a significant bipartisan initiative to sensibly combat environmental waste.”

“Plastics have become fundamental to almost all aspects of our lives, from food storage to 3-D printing technology, and have enabled us to make great technological advances,” said Congresswoman Stevens. With this progress, however, comes a cost. We produce far more plastic than we can properly recycle, domestically and internationally. The extent of plastics pollution is becoming ever more apparent and more alarming. The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act will help address this issue by developing a world-leading U.S. industry in improved plastics recycling technologies, and unleash the innovative potential of our nation to address our plastic waste crisis and generate greater value from the plastics we do produce.”

“I firmly believe that innovation is the key to moving our country and our world forward, especially when it comes to finding better ways to minimize waste and protect our environment,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “This legislation takes action to ensure that we are continuing to find safer, better, and more efficient ways to consume and reuse the products we rely on.”

Specifically, the Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act:

  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a “Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Program.” The purpose of the program is to improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry, ensure U.S. leadership in plastics waste reduction and recycling research, ensure U.S. leadership in national and international standards development, and reduce any harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment.
  • Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish an interagency committee to coordinate the program and develop a strategic plan for plastic waste reduction and recycling and plastic waste remediation.
  • Directs the National Institute of Standards and Technologies to carry out research and provide the metrology basis for standards development for plastics recycling and related technologies, and to develop a clearinghouse to support dissemination of the tools, guidelines, and standards supported by the program.
  • Directs the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support research and other activities on improved recycling technologies, plastic waste remediation, and the public health impacts of microplastics, among other topics.
  • Authorizes funding for 5 years and invests $85 million in fiscal year 2022 for these activities. Authorizes a 6.5% increase over the previous year’s authorization for each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026.