35% EPA Recycling Goal

Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:20:33 -0500

>On June 17, 1996, in Newport Beach, California, EPA announced a
new U.S. goal of 35 percent recycling rate by the year 2005, and
requested comments from the public. Comments will be welcome through the end
of September and can be sent via email to: lee.eugene@epamail.epa.

In the most recent issue of Plastics News there is an editorial along
with a cartoon poking fun of the California Integrated Waste Management
Board. The issue is whether or not the State of California has reached the
25% rigid plastic recycling rate mandated! It seems that two different
counting systems have arrived at different numbers: One slightly below 25%,
the other just above 25%. (From what I hear about how these numbers were
arrived at, I am sure both are but rough guesses mixed with a lot of make
believe.) Now huge political battles, wasting ll kinds of money, good will,
and momentum are being exerted to accept one or the other report.
I mention this story because, in my opinion, this is a perfect example
of how we have lost sight of the big picture of why we recycle in the first
We live on a finite sized planet with an exponentially growing
population. In order to continue to live, sooner or later we will exhaust
the planets resources; sooner or later we must think of this as "space ship
Earth" and we must take the goal of a "sustainable society" seriously. One
step in that direction is the goal of ZERO WASTE!
ZERO WASTE is the ultimate "waste diversion" goal; not 25%, 35%, or even
50%. We really ought not lose sight of this, particularly when we go to
super efforts (often times super expensive ones) to achieve those last few
percentage point towards whatever todays arbitrary goal is. As a recycling
based manufacturer I am convinced that the undue preasure created by such
mandated goals often times leads to overly expensive recycling schemes that
result in a public and buciness backlash that hurts rather than help the goal
in the long run.
I realize that to set goals without target dates can lead to foot
dragging, but at the same time the kind of carrot approach suggested by
people like Paul Hawkins does just that, and in a much more reasonable manner
than current methods.......

To sum: The goal is Zero Waste, not 35%! The current methods used to
"force" recycling will never get there! We MUST try new approaches such as
suggested by Paul Hawkins!

Stephen Suess
The Plactory
986 Tower Place
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(408) 462-1565