APR News and Media

March 27, 2020 - APR Media Statement

Recycling programs are essential and must continue during this critical time.

As we all cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, your APR team is advocating for our industry before policymakers and opinion leaders in the media. Here is a public statement we are sharing widely. Feel free to adapt and use it for your own communication needs.

The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) stands with our members to provide essential recycling services while prioritizing the health and safety of employees, their families, and all the communities in which we live and work.  As our country confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, APR will continue to serve as the “Voice of Plastic Recycling” and an important resource for information and guidance.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued federal guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce.  Under that guidance and, in compliance with state directives, APR members are committed to continuing operations and providing essential services to their communities and to the country.  The collection and processing of recyclable materials can be done safely, and we commend all those working in our industry for their dedication and efforts during these challenging times. 

America’s recycling infrastructure is a critical component in the battle against COVID-19, providing the resources we need to fight the virus and preserving the economy while protecting the environment. 

Recycled material serves as feedstock for the manufacture of a wide range of products that are critical in fighting the spread of COVID-19, ranging from cleaning products to personal care products, including bleach-based sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial soap, paper towels and toilet paper.  Additionally, recycled materials are used in a variety of products that are currently in high demand during the pandemic, for example, bottled water and containers used for carry-out food. Health authorities are also currently advising against the use of reusable bags, leading to an increased demand for plastic grocery bags which our members manufacture with recycled plastic.

The demand for recycled content also shows up in increased packaging needs.  As social distancing and shelter-in-place directives drive increased e-commerce demand, thousands of essential products need to arrive at businesses and homes, shipped in packaging made from recycled materials.

It is important to note that recycled plastic is always sterilized, so there is no risk that products made from recycled materials carry viral or bacterial contamination. 

Recycling programs must continue so that recyclers can access the material they need to feed our country’s demand for essential products.  Should recycling programs be curtailed or ended, consequences could be both immediate and long-ranging.  It will be exceedingly difficult to rebuild the recycling infrastructure if it is dismantled, even for a short time.

In a time of record high unemployment, recycling makes up a critical component of the economy, providing stable jobs throughout the supply chain, including haulers, material recover facilities (MRFs), reclaimers, converters, and product manufacturers.  The technological advances made by APR members over the past decade have led to increased efficiencies and capabilities for the recycling of plastics.

As our members remain open and operating to serve our country, safety always comes first.  They follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others.  Our member companies have enhanced cleaning and personal hygiene protocols, enacted social distancing policies, and boosted the use of personal protective equipment.

By maintaining the thousands of curbside recycling programs right now available in communities throughout the country, recycling can continue to be done safely and effectively, supplying the recycled content that is essential to make clean, new products as part of the circular economy.  Continued access to material is critical for our industry and we are working to ensure that state and local authorities understand that recycling programs are essential and must continue during this critical time.

APR will continue to work to advocate for the recycling industry and educate policymakers about the importance of maintaining the recycling supply chain for the safety of our citizens.