[GRRN] Welfare for Waste Info on GRRN Web Site

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Fri, 9 Apr 1999 09:52:58 -0400

A landmark report was released April 8th across the
United States. The report, Welfare for Waste: How
Federal Taxpayer subsidies Waste Resources and
Undermine Recycling, is a joint project of the
GrassRoots Recycling Network, Taxpayers for
Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, and the Materials
Efficiency Project.

The report is a landmark because it marks the first
time that the link between subsidies for material
inefficiency (virgin material extraction and wasting)
and harm to America's favorite environmental
activity -- recycling -- is highlighted.

The Welfare for Waste report was released by in
37 cities across the nation by a diverse coalition
of organizations who have joined together to end
wasteful subsidies and help recycling. The organizations
include recyclers, forest activists, waste facility opponents,
local environmental and taxpayer groups.

The Welfare for Waste report is posted on the GrassRoots
Recycling Network's web site (http://www.grrn.org) along
with the endorsement list (120 organizations and
businesses!), the national press release and other items.
The report can be downloaded for free in PDF format
(looks exactly like the final report) or in Word (minus
photos, pull quotes and formatting). The 4-page Executive
Summary is also posted as a PDF file. Or send $10 to
GRRN at the address below for the printed 40-page report.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a great event!

Bill Sheehan
Network Coordinator
GrassRoots Recycling Network
P.O. Box 49283
Athens GA 30604-9283
Tel: 706-613-7121
Fax: 706-613-7123

Embargoed for Release
Until April 8, 1999, 10:00 AM EDT

Contacts: GRRN - Lance King, 703-582-7932
TCS - Keith Ashdown, 202-546-8500 x 110
FOE - Lynn Erskine, 202-783-7400 x 255


New Coalition Calls On Congress To End
'Welfare for Waste'

WASHINGTON, DC (April 8, 1999) -- A new
national coalition asked Congress today to end
federal tax and spending subsidies which waste
billions of dollars and hurt recycling.

Federal subsidies for timber, mining, energy
and waste disposal are part of a complex
system of economic preferences discouraging
recycling, according to a ground-breaking
report produced by the GrassRoots Recycling
Network, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the
Materials Efficiency Project and Friends of
the Earth.

Welfare for Waste: How Federal Taxpayer
Subsidies Waste Resources and Discourage
Recycling identifies 15 tax and spending
subsidies pouring $13 billion over 5 years
into industries that compete directly with
recycling. The report was released in a 10:00
a.m. news conference at the National Press
Club in Washington, DC is endorsed by 116
organizations and businesses. It is also being
released today in 32 other cities across the

"Congress set up the system of tax and
spending subsidies decades ago, when our
natural resources seemed limitless. Today,
Americans work hard to recycle so that
resources are saved through sustainable
business practices. It is time for Congress to
end these subsidies which amount to welfare
for waste," Rick Best, national chair of the
GrassRoots Recycling Network said in a
Sacramento, California news conference.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN), which
led the year-long research effort, is a
national non-profit organization advocating
policies and practices to achieve zero waste,
and is headquartered in Athens, Georgia. Rick
Best, who leads GRRN's Board of Directors, is
policy director for the Sacramento-based
Californians Against Waste.

Taxpayers for Common Sense Executive Director
Ralph DeGennaro said in the Washington news
conference: "Taxpayers are forced to foot the
bill for federal programs rewarding waste and
destruction of the environment. It is time for
Congress to recognize that Americans love
recycling and hate the waste of hard-earned
taxpayer dollars." Taxpayers for Common Sense
is an independent watchdog organization
working to eliminate wasteful federal

Major findings in the report are that:

* Recycling competes directly with virgin
materials, such as timber, oil and mineral
resources, and waste disposal industries on an
uneven playing field.

* Favoritism to virgin materials originated in
the late 1800's with federal and state
subsidies intended to develop the American
West. But these policies are dangerously
outmoded and have the effect today of wasting
taxpayer money, encouraging environmental
destruction, pollution, lost job
opportunities, and trashing of resources.

* 15 federal taxpayer subsidies for well-
financed and politically influential
corporations cost an average $2.6 billion a
year or $13 billion over 5 years. These are
conservative estimates and do not include
billions of dollars more in state and local

* Current demand for energy and natural
resources, many of which are non-renewable,
cannot continue without fostering ever greater
environmental and economic degradation.

* Resource-efficient recycling and reuse
businesses, which tend to be smaller,
community-based and run by entrepreneurs,
struggle against subsidized competitors.

* Eliminating these subsidies is an essential
step toward creating a more level playing
field on which recycling can compete. It
conserves resources and saves taxpayer dollars
at the same time.

"Materials efficiency is a new policy for the
new millennium, which will support sustainable
jobs and businesses in the United States and
protect the environment," John Young, the
principal researcher for the report and
director of the Materials Efficiency Project,

"The unique contribution of this report is
connecting the issues of recycling,
environmental protection and taxpayer reform.
Welfare for Waste breaks new ground by
focusing on the impact of federal taxpayer
subsidies on recycling," Friends of the Earth
President Brent Blackwelder said.

National organizations endorsing the report
include the Natural Resources Defense Council,
Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace USA,
Rainforest Action Network, U.S. Public
Interest Research Group, Coop America, Mineral
Policy Center, Institute for Local Self
Reliance, American Lands, Rainforest Relief,
Container Recycling Institute, Redefining
Progress and Resource Conservation Alliance.

The report is available for free on the
internet at http://www.grrn.org or in printed
form for $10.00 (including shipping and
handling) from the GrassRoots Recycling
Network, P.O. Box 49283, Athens, GA 30604-