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E-M:/ recycling report released today
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from mike garfield -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contacts: Mike Garfield (734) 761-3186 ext. 104
Lance King (703) 241-4927
Trash Up, Recycling Down: Major New Report Finds America Losing Ground in the War on Waste
After 15 years of steady progress, recycling programs have lost ground during the past five years, according to a national report released today. The fall-off has cost the United States huge amounts of added air pollutants, wasted energy and natural resources, lost forest land, and billions of dollars. The report was produced by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Grassroots Recycling Network, and was released in Michigan by the Ecology Center.
The comprehensive report, entitled "Wasting and Recycling in the United States 2000," found that recent trends indicate that wasting is on the rise and is outpacing the rise in recycling. In particular:
* after several years of leveling off and then dropping, municipal wasting increased by 4.4 million tons during the most recent year for which data is available;
* the portion of plastic, aluminum, and glass containers landfilled and burned is rising (e.g., 75% of PET #1 plastic containers were wasted in 1998 versus 60% in 1995);
* manufacturers are producing more products and packaging that are hard to recycle or lack recycled content (e.g., from 1990 to 1997, plastic packaging grew five times faster by weight than plastic recovered for recycling);
* the waste hauling industry continues to consolidate, leading to less recycling; and,
* some states are rescinding their recycling goals and policies, cities have cut their reycling budgets, and some industries - particularly the plastics industry - have not followed through on commitments to utilize more recycled material.
"While Michigan used to be a leader in waste reduction and recycling, passing the country's largest container deposit law in 1976, it has fallen badly in recent years," said Mike Garfield, of the Ecology Center. "Recycling rates have plateaued, and Michigan's landfill glut has turned our state into the country's third largest waste importer."
The report calls for a four-part action plan to move the country toward dramatically increased levels of recycling. It proposes that tax subsidies for polluting industries be eliminated, that manufacturers share responsibility for waste disposal, that zero waste be adopted as a planning principle for sustainable communities, and that policies and programs be adopted which build the reuse and recycling infrastructure.
The Ecology Center called for new state tax incentives for the recycling industry, major new investments in recycling and reuse programs, and a ban on waste imports from states with weaker solid waste regulations than Michigan.
A full copy of the report can be obtained for $25 from the Grassroots Recycling Network, P.O. Box 49283, Athens, GA 30604. Portions of the report will be posted after March 27 at www.grrn.org. For more information, contact (734) 761-3186 ext. 104 or (703) 241-4927.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a nonprofit research and educational organization that provides technical assistance and information to city and state governments, citizen organizations, and industry. The Grassroots Recycling Network is a North American network of recycling and community-based activists who advocate policies and practices to achieve zero waste, to end corporate welfare for waste, and to create sustainable jobs from discards. The Ecology Center is a 30-year-old nonprofit organization that works for a just and healthy environment through grassroots organizing, advocacy, education, and demonstration projects. The Ecology Center started the first recycling program in the state of Michigan and is the parent organization of Recycle Ann Arbor, one of the country's largest community-based recycling programs.
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 ext. 104
(734) 663-2414 (fax)
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