The whole of the United States, not just Chicago, is bad at recycling. EPA wants to change this | Chicago News


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Chicago has taken a lot of criticism over the years for its anemic recycling rate, which has continually stagnated below 10%. But the problem is not unique to the Windy City.

The entire nation must do better, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Monday, EPA released its first national recycling strategy, which aims for a 50% recycling rate in the United States by 2030.

“Our nation’s recycling system needs critical improvements to better serve the American people,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

Among the challenges cited by the agency: reduced markets for recycled materials, recycling infrastructure that has not kept up with the evolution of the waste stream, confusion over which materials can be recycled and lack of consistency in the methodologies used to measure performances.

The EPA strategy sets broad goals for each of these issues, including targets for reducing contamination among recyclable materials and improving recycling infrastructure through product design and efficiency. processing.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, which manages the city’s recycling programs, had no immediate response to the EPA’s strategy.

A plan to implement the strategy is still underway, with EPA saying it will “work with communities, local, state, federal and tribal partners, as well as public and private stakeholders to achieve the ambitious objectives of the strategy ”.

Beyond reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, the recycling strategy addresses broader concerns related to climate change and environmental justice.

“Having a strategy that promotes better materials management can help us find solutions to these larger problems,” Sacoby Wilson, member of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, said in a statement.

“We have to work with industries that are significant sources of single-use products,” Wilson said. “And, when we approach recycling, we need to determine where this waste is coming from, where it goes and how it impacts the health, sustainability and quality of life in communities of color.”

While this initial strategy focuses on municipal waste, future EPA plans will focus on creating a circular economy. Such an approach would have a huge impact on extraction, manufacturing and disposal by designing less resource-intensive products and recovering waste to make new products.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]


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