Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Fri, 21 May 1999 16:07:01 -0400


Friday, May 21, 1999
By Associated Press

A decade of cajoling by recycling advocates did not work, so
a House committee on Thursday approved a measure to
force lawmakers and their staffs to separate cans and bottles
from their leftover lunches.

The legislation by the House Appropriations Committee
would turn a voluntary program into a compulsory one and
send money earned from recycling to the chamber's child
care center.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., author of the amendment to the
money bill that finances House operations, predicted it
would be "embarrassing politically" for anyone to propose
deleting the language. The measure goes to the full House
and does not apply to the Senate, which has taken no similar

The Associated Press reported last month that after a decade
of failed, voluntary efforts, most congressional offices still
were mixing garbage, aluminum cans, bottles and different
grades of paper.

In contrast, agencies throughout the federal government
successfully have been separating their trash and selling
recyclable material -- just as local governments are doing
throughout America.

The recycling failures, along with workplace health and
safety citations issued to the architect's office, are examples
of congressional noncompliance with programs and rules
other Americans are expected to follow.

The House earned $25,000 for recycling in fiscal 1998,
according to federal government statistics. That is far short
of the $150,000 that could be earned if 60 percent of the
product were sorted, according to the chamber's former
recycling coordinator.

Some lawmakers complained at Thursday's committee
session that congressional maintenance employees, working
under the Architect of the Capitol, have dumped the contents
of recycling bins into the same containers in offices that
attempted to separate throwaway items.

"We separate all of it and they take it all and just throw it
together. They just put it in a big bin. That's why we get such
a low rate" of recycling, said Rep. James Moran, D-Va.

The Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. C.W. "Bill"
Young, R-Fla. added, "I personally saw all three different
bins" of trash in his office "deposited in the same place."

Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., chairman of the legislative
branch subcommittee, had urged the measure's defeat,
contending it would give the architect authority over House

"This puts a legal requirement on the members to
participate," Taylor said before the voice vote approving the
language. "I'm not sure that's where we want to go."

But Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that even if the
amendment later were removed from the spending bill, the
provision would "get the attention" of the architect and
improve recycling compliance.

Copyright 1999, Associated Press, All Rights Reserved