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Decrease in recovered material from schools, offices noted in statement to government

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The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has submitted a written statement to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works (EPW) concerning some of the challenges facing recycling in the United States.

This is in conjunction with the committee's oversight hearing, "Responding to the Challenges Facing Recycling in the United States." 

SWANA's written statement focused on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on recycling programs and facilities, noting the decrease in recovered material from commercial customers such as schools, offices, and stores. At the same time, SWANA described how residential waste and recycling volume increased nationwide in March and April, though it has declined from the peak of about twenty percent higher than normal.

Other impacts identified in SWANA's written testimony included operational changes at recycling facilities to keep workers safe, the temporary suspension of some curbside collection programs, and additional personal protective equipment provided by employers in response to concerns about exposure expressed by front-line workers.  

SWANA Executive Director & CEO stated, "We are pleased to provide SWANA's perspective on the current challenges facing municipal and private sector recycling programs, including the impacts of COVID and continued concerns about contamination. We have been working closely with Congress, EPA, and other recycling stakeholders on these issues, and look forward to continuing to do so in the months to come."

SWANA described its support for various legislative proposals that would provide federal funding and support for local recycling programs, including Save Our Seas 2.0, which the Senate unanimously approved in January. It also urged EPW and others to hold EPA to its commitment to issue national recycling goals in Fall 2020 and ensure that recycling workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment and priority for COVID-19 testing.

SWANA will dive deeper into many of the recycling-related issues raised at the hearing during SWANApalooza, taking place virtually on June 22-25. SWANApalooza's keynote presentation, "Overcoming Recycling Challenges and Taking Advantage of New Opportunities," brings together EPA Acting Director Kathleen Salyer and other recycling experts in an engaging conversation about how the industry is tackling challenges in recycling and embracing new ways and opportunities for managing it.

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