APR Goes to Washington
Steve Alexander Testifies on Plastic Recycling Issues Before U.S. Senate Subcommittee
On Thursday, September 28, 2023, APR President and CEO Steve Alexander was invited to testify at a hearing before the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight.
The hearing, entitled Examining Solutions to Address Beverage Container Waste, was a part of the Subcommittee's efforts to develop policy solutions to reducing plastic waste.
APR's participation in the hearing is reflective of the association's reputation as a leader in the industry and a valuable voice at the table as Congress considers important legislative avenues for the future.
The hearing followed standard Congressional protocol which has witnesses offering brief opening statements before answering questions from Senators.
Read Steve's opening statement here.
In his testimony, Steve emphasized that APR is the voice of plastic recyclers. He said, "We are the boots on the ground dedicated to making recycling work every day across the United States. APR members work at every link of the recycling chain from initial design to eventual remanufacturing."
On behalf of APR, Steve shared with the Subcommittee some important information about the state of plastic recycling in the U.S. He tackled the inaccurate low plastic recycling numbers that are too often reported by explaining that "80% of rigid consumer plastic packaging is made of 3 types of resins: water and soda bottles - PET plastic, laundry detergent and milk jugs - HDPE plastic, and yogurt and butter tubs - PP plastic." He said, "Right now, the US recycles those plastics at a rate of 19.8%" and noted that "APR members have the capacity today to increase that percentage to 42% - with no other changes or investments - if we could get the supply."
Steve spoke to the importance of recycling not just to the environment but also to the economy. He said, "Demand for recycled content is soaring. For example, US companies have committed to buying three times more recycled PET by 2025 than is currently available in the domestic market. As a result, we already have members importing plastics from other countries to meet demand. Collecting more recyclable plastics is good for US consumers, good for US manufacturing, and good for our environment."
Congress is seeking solutions and Steve, on behalf of APR, offered a few practical suggestions including:
- Ensuring that plastics are designed to be compatible with recycling including both manufacturer adherence to design standards and implementation of clear, consistent labeling so consumers know what to put in the bin.
- Improving recycling infrastructure to make it more convenient and accessible.
- Requiring that new plastic packaging be made out of recycled plastic through US manufacturing. Steve reminded the Senators that, "APR was the first organization to call for mandatory recycled content standards nearly 20 years ago. We still need state and federal policies to drive minimum recycled content standards."
APR's long-form written testimony is also available at the same link.
This hearing was an important opportunity for APR to help drive the discussion about improving and growing plastics recycling in this country. At the conclusion of the hearing, Steve and APR were encouraged to remain in contact with the Subcommittee – and we will!