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[GreenYes] Fw: Survey Shows Recycling Rate Lower than Thought
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Subject: Survey Shows Recycling Rate Lower than

This is the Recycling Policy NewsBriefs Email Bulletin
for Raymond Communications, Inc. College Park MD,
publishers of State Recycling Laws Update and
Recycling Laws International. All material copyright
2001, Raymond Communications; permission to
forward with credit.

August 21, 2001

Survey Shows Recycling Rate Lower than Thought

With nine of the nation's most "green" states reporting
lower recycling rates for 1999-2000, a new state survey
of recycling managers shows Americans may be
recycling less than federal figures show.

Details will be in the State Recycling Laws Update
Year-End Edition 2001, to be published in September
by Raymond Communications, College Park MD.

Based in figures given by states currently and in past
years, they survey indicates that the U.S. recycling rate
is between 25% and 26%, depending on which states
are counted. EPA estimates the 1999 national recycling
rate at 27.8%.

Many states do not count their rates, and some only
estimate.  SRLU was able to obtain new figures from
20 states in 2002 for 1999-2000 period.  They were
combined with past figures and estimates, and excluded
the very high figures given when industrial waste is
included. When averaged out, the average rate outside
the "diversion" reporting states is just 24.2%.  When
the five states reporting landfill diversion figures are
added in, the rate increases to 26.2%

Significantly, the 2001  survey showed 12 states
reporting increases in recovery, while nine indicated a
drop for 1999-2000. Major recycling states, including
Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio,
South Carolina and Virginia, have seen a decline in
recovery rates.

While 27 states reported increases in curbside recycling
programs, none had added more than one; several states
reported some cities had dropped their program.
Meanwhile, a record 19 states reported that glass had
been dropped form one or more curbside programs in
the last year.

Record Numbers of Bills

The state Legislatures continue to introduce record
numbers of recycling-related bills, with nearly 400 new
bills in 2001. Of these, 54 bills passed.

A record 48 new mercury-related bills were introduced
in 2001, with 15 bills passing in six states between
August 2000 and August 2001.

The electronics issue heated in 2001, with 20 bills in
the hoppers  four passed.  While none posed major
restrictions, the survey indicated this trend will
continued in 2002.

The states also continued to introduce container deposit
bills in 2001  another 54 bills floated in 2002 (only
two less than 1999), though only Hawaii saw any action
on a bill.

"Our surveys indicate that recycling is starting to
decline even in states with large financial and political
commitments to the issue.  Only ten states are reaching
their goals," comments SRLU publisher Michele

Meanwhile, Minnesota, which recycled 40%, claims
claim waste is growing at more than 3%, higher than
federal estimates.   Keeping up with waste growth and
trash imports when recycling markets are down will
make matters worse, she observes.

"If the recycling decline continues, many lawmakers
may decide to try new legislation rather than see their
original recycling promises head for the trash heap."

But almost none of the policy options popular with state
regulators are acceptable to industry. The SRLU survey
showed that the vast majority of state officials
personally favor the concept of "producer
responsibility"  25 of 26 responding said yes on the
2001 survey.

Moreover, when asked how governments should
increase the flow of PET plastic bottles to meet the
demand from fiber and bottle makers, the most frequent
answer was container "deposits," checked by 13
managers.  Public education was the other popular

So while new deposits and mandated "EPR" may not be
on the horizon in the near future because of opposition,
recycling observers don't put much faith in total
voluntary solutions, given the state of consumer

"There may be hope for some national voluntary
solutions on electronics  in part because industry
appears to be more cooperative in this area," she
concludes. "However we still see no leadership in
plastics recycling or resolution of the interstate waste
'flow control' issue."

Details on the results of the state survey, and a
complete update on 32 recycling issues, with an
updated state wrap of laws is included in the new State
Recycling Laws Update Year-End Edition, 2001, to be
available early September.

For information, call 301-345-4237 or check the web
site at

This is the Recycling Policy Bulletin from Raymond
Communications! (, a free
service for those concerned about recycling policy
worldwide.  If you have questions, please email

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