tv Experts Testify on Recycling Circular Economy Concept CSPAN December 30, 2021 10:16pm-12:16am EST
on c-span or on our new mobile video app, c-span now. ♪ >> next, a hearing on finding safe ways to reuse materials, and educating the public about best recycling rectus is. the senate environment and public works committee held the steering. -- held this hearing. good morning -- >> good morning, everybody.
welcome to our witnesses and guests. i am pleased to be with you and pleased to call this meeting to order. in a couple minutes, we are going to hold votes on five nominees filled -- to fill positions within the environmental agency -- environmental protection agency, department of this desk department of defense and no less than nine general service resolutions. after that, we will take a nap. no, after that, we will get to work. we will immediately move to a hearing enter from a panel of experts about the role we can play in promoting the transition to a secular economy. i will have more say on that, but now, let me discuss the nominees whom our committee will
vote on. each of the nominees, jeff cradle, stephen owen, jennifer sass and sylvia johnson are talented, well-established leaders in their effective fields. each has demonstrated deep commitment to making our country a better, safer and more livable place for all americans. jeff is president biden's nominee to serve as general counsel at epa. i met with mr. prieto this summer and he is an outstanding pick to assist administrator regan leading epa in keeping its policies and programs consistent with the law. mr. prieto dedicated 20 years of his distinguished career to public, serving multiple apartments in the executive branch. he demonstrated the kind of intelligence, poise, forthright commitment to the epa mission
that will make him an outstanding general counsel. i urge our colleagues to join me in reporting is nomination favorably to the senate. we will also vote on president hyden's nominees on the chemical and hazardous investigations board. let me say couple words about stephen owens, and stephen johnson. each of these individuals bring skills and experiences that will greatly benefit the work of the hazardous investigations board. one is a chemical administrates are -- chemical administrator who dedicated his career as an attorney and protecting, -- protecting communities from pollution. dr. sass is a well respected scientist leading in understanding how chemical releases affect individuals and
our communities. dr. johnson has built a formidable career as a health expert, working with those potentially exposed to chemicals and industrial hazards to promote worker and occupational safety, working directly on hazardous assessments and incident investigations that involve worker deaths from hazardous exposures. i believe each nominee in the chemical safety board is qualified to make a meaningful contribution. i believe their combined experience may be stronger i the diversity of each individual's contributions, a great step should they all be confirmed. this board is very much in need of their leadership right now and i am enthusiastic about csp improving effectiveness following their contributions.
i turn it over to the ranking member for any comments she would like to make. senator: i am pleased to support two of the nominees for the chemical safety and hazardous investigation board, stephen owen stated in his written response to the committee that one of his priorities would be increasing transparency and information sharing at csb. i welcome that news. i am pleased to hear that and urge him to follow through on this commitment should he be confirmed. when considering nominee dr. sylvia johnson i appreciated her , commitment in her written responses to spend the next few months of her tenure seeking advice and counsel from internal and external sources. i regret i cannot support the remaining nominee, dr. jennifer sass. csb plays a critical role in analyzing why industrial accidents occur and how they can avoid them in the future and a technical and unbiased manner --
in a technical and unbiased manner. her criticism of the industry included deriding the epa for engaging with the american chemistry council about implementing the toxic substance control act in a transparent manner. i was troubled by her attempt to conceal that attack and other statements after the hearing i taking down her entire twitter page. this knee-jerk reaction when confronted with hard questions shows she is not the right person for a board committed to transparency. i cannot support the nomination of jeffrey to serve as general counsel of the epa. the direction the administration is already taking on waters of the u.s. combined with his refusal to condemn overreaching regulation means i must oppose his nomination at this time. this administration announced plans in the environmental policy area ones that i think could cause major damage to our economy and energy sectors. mr. chairman, i look forward to
reporting five naming bills including senator lummis' legislation. thank you for having today's hearing and i yield back. >> happy to be here with you and our colleagues. i want to turn to senator lummis for comments and i think senator cardin also has comments he would like to make. we are close to having the members we need. we might be one or two short. hopefully by the time cynthia and ben are finished we will have the chance to vote. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as the first woman to serve in the united states senate from wyoming it is a privilege for me to talk about a real pioneer woman from the state of wyoming who finished her life in maryland and is buried in baltimore. wyoming was the first state to continuously grant women's right to vote.
in fact, it was the first government in the world to continuously grant women the right to vote. this happened fully 50 years before the 19th amendment to the u.s. constitution. and louisa swain was the pioneering woman who cast the first legal vote in a general election under wyoming law on september 6, 1870. i cannot think of a better name for a federal building in the first state to recognize this right and enshrine full suffrage for women into law. many women played an essential role in the journey toward suffrage but louisa swain's simple act of voting, though quiet, was the shot heard round the world and she deserves i believe this recognition for a federal building to be named after her in cheyenne, wyoming. i want to thank both senator cardin and van hollen for
joining me in this legislation. after mrs. swain left wyoming she made her home in maryland. she is buried in baltimore where you can visit her grave. i know that both senator cardin and senator van hollen are proud of their home state's part in the story of women's suffrage and being from wyoming i cannot even describe how proud i am of our role. it is a privilege to sponsor the legislation with senator van hollen and senator cardin. i appreciate both of you for this and thank you for joining me today in this effort. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. i want to senator cardin. >> mr. chairman, thank you. let me thank my colleague from
wyoming for advancing this bill. through the story of louisa swain the state of wyoming and the state of maryland share an important piece of the history of the women's right to vote. we celebrate louisa swain as the first woman in the world to cast a ballot in an election. she was born in virginia, lived for a time in baltimore before moving to wyoming. shortly after casting her ballot in 1870 she returned to baltimore where she was laid to rest in 1878. i am pleased to support this legislation to designate a federal bill in honor of louisa swain. may it serve as a reminder the long road women have traveled to secure the right to vote on the long road we have yet to travel to secure equal rights for women in this country and around the world. i thank my colleague from wyoming for advancing this legislation. i would ask a consent i could be added as a cosponsor. >> without objection. >> if i might on a separate issue? >> yes.
>> i know we will be considering a certain gsa resolution, one is a consolidated activities program in various locations. in the last time our committee took up a similar resolution i have requested a letter and received a letter from the gsa. the associate administrator rivera dated august 10, 2021 to make it clear not of the funds will be used for renovations of the fbi facility on pennsylvania avenue. i would ask this be made part of the record. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. anyone else have comments? we are waiting for senator markey who is under the weather. it is not covid but he should be walking in the door any minute. anybody else? >> mr. chairman? >> yes please. >> mr. chairman, and mr. johnson as well, i am going to be -- in
case some people leave before we get to the second part of the program -- we have a great article here by andrew wheeler. >> that is a familiar name. >> i'm sorry? . >> familiar name. i think he used to work for him as i recall. [laughter] >> yes. the article i am going to submit be part of the record is a very long article. i don't think andrew wheeler has ever written a short article but it is thorough and one that i think deserves the attention of everyone on the committee and onto panel. >> without objection. any other comments? any other comments? the man of the hour. welcome. i called him last night and he was in bad shape. i am delighted he is here today.
hearing to order, in fact, i will and i will invite our witnesses. it is appropriate to join us at the table with your nameplate. i like to start this morning by thanking this distinguished panel of witnesses for their willingness to join us today as we discussed an issue, and i think it opportunity, of great importance and that is the transition to a circular economy. warm welcome to elizabeth, brian hawkinson and billy johnson. we look forward to hearing from each of you this morning. i got to say i love the idea of circular economy. i studied some as an rotc
midshipman and i love the idea of trying to figure out how to use market forces to get things done. and i like the idea of the materials that make a circular economy possible. materials that can be reused over and over again instead of ending up in a landfill somewhere. as an avid composter i have always believed since my days growing up in the boy scouts in danville, virginia and over the years i have come to feel more strongly that it is our moral duty to leave behind a cleaner, healthier planet for our children and for the generations that follow. allow me to make one thing clear. driving 20 circular economy is not just doing something about the discussed we -- digust we
feel in see the trash. it is escalating climate change, overflowing landfills, and oceans that are choked with massive plastic greater than the weight of all the fish in the sea. the actions the put us in the mess are not the fault of any one person. that is why we must work together. this is what we call in the navy, all hands on deck. over the past few weeks several of our senate colleagues and i, including senator o, senator bozeman, senator merkley and others have joined us in engaging with a host of stakeholders. what that concept looks like in practice across a multitude of industries and levels of government. what we heard was in part sobering. but also i am happy to report it was encouraging. we heard from waste workers about the challenges they face with contaminated recycling
streams and the impact of china's national policy on their ability to effectively manage domestic waste, especially plastic. we heard about the need for brighter product design -- better product design so companies can have products returned to them in good condition to be reused. and we heard about the devastating impact of the fashion industry on our environment. did you know that every second almost a dump truck's worth of textiles goes into our landfills? the fashion industry is responsible for some 10% of global emissions, more than the aviation sector and the maritime shipping sector combined. i did not know those things. my guess is most of our colleagues and their staff did not know them either. we also discovered with awareness and motivation we can do a great deal to address the obvious need and change that these damaging behaviors provide.
one of those products that stood out for me was aluminum. 75% of aluminum ever mind is still in use today. i am good to say that again. 75% of aluminum ever mined is still in use today. that is important because aluminum products made from recycled materials use 95% less energy than it would take to create them from first use materials. 75% less energy. in most cases recycled products are more energy efficient which translates directly into reducing greenhouse gas emissions. something we all know we need to do. that is the power of circular economy. the roundtable also taught us more about the potential we have to recapture and recycle critical minerals found in lithium-ion batteries. that capacity helps us -- helps our nation in many ways, driving
us and our transportation fleets to carbon neutral and relieving us from often times hostile foreign sources for those critical minerals. finally, we heard great success stories from industries that stepped up to take more responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products. i am glad to see mr. hawkinson here today. welcome especially. with the national recycling rate i believe around 35% across the country the paper industry's recycling is over 60%, twice the national rate. it really does stand out. the paper industry shows how companies can and should help the cause by ensuring their products can live on i being recycled into new products. we lead by example. companies must step up and take responsibility for reducing and recycling their products. while we cannot make industries
successful we can make it and we know that if industry along with environmental advocates in all levels of government join forces to reach these inspiring essential goals, return on our investment will be exponential. and that is our challenge to our witnesses before us today, and frankly, to all of us. please, tell us what our government needs to do to better ensure that you succeed in your efforts to establish the circular economy, one that helps bring our solid waste problems under control, reins in unsustainable greenhouse gas emissions, reduces our overall consumption and meets this critical moment in our nation's history. someday, i expect to be asked in the future by our three sons and their children, the question: what did you do to stop climate change and help save our planet when you had the chance? what did you do? and i want to be able to look
them in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could, everything we could. so to me, today's hearing is an important step in enabling this country of ours to do just that. let's seize the opportunity. let's convey a strong sense of urgency and embrace the chance to create a circular economy that allows us to be our better selves, respecting our planet, taking care of each other and not wasting the precious resources that our creator has bestowed upon us. each of you, as witnesses here today, bear a larger than average share of responsibility to get us to that better place. you have the knowledge; you have the skill and i believe the will to do so and with apologies to the late jim morrison, i believe you have the will to do so, to help us today to light your fire so that together, we can prevent many of the wildfires that have been engulfing large swaths of our country throughout much of this year and last. with that, i've said enough. turn it over to the ranking
member for any comments you would like to have. >> thank you for calling today's hearing today. in addition to our leadership roles. >> would that connection be wild and wonderful, though? >> probably. both chairman carp and i are members of the senate recyclabling caucus as are a few of our other epw colleagues. we see recycling as a win-win solution that presents significant environmental and economic benefits. recycling can reduce waste going to landfills and the incinerators, can conserve natural resources like timber and water and save energy. in fact, many recent developments in waste management are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to an all of the above strategy to address climate change. hand in hand with those environmental benefits, recycling creates domestic jobs
and supports american manufacturing. we've seen significant bipartisan progress on this issue in recent years. when we passed our save our seas act and save our seas act, which helped our ability to combat marine debris, but that's only one piece of the puzzle. there's also significant funding in the act that the senate passed last month for recycling structure and education to reduce contamination in the recycling stream. while these investments will help us to reach epa's national recycling goal of recycling 50% of waste by 2030, other challenges do remain. i want to highlight two of the challenges today. one is the need to expand material processing and manufacturing here in our own country, and number two is a lack of demand for recycled materials. the issues with china taking or more recently not taking our recycling materials and the
issues with supply lines laid bear by the pandemic made clear we need to do more of the material processing and manufacturing right here in america. the investments in our nation's roads and bridges that are in the infrastructure investment and jobs act would help expand american manufacturing. reliable infrastructure is critical for economic development and creating job opportunities. when china stopped importing our trash, the economies of municipal recycling changed dramatically. cities must incur significant costs to collect recyclables and in some instances, the costs of paying businesses to accept those recyclables if they can no longer be properly sold. some municipal systems have taken on the costs and burden of storing bails of recyclables waiting for an improvement to the market. this is all due to a lack of domestic demand for our recycled materials. market demand can create the incentives to invest in the recycling system and expand access to recycling across the
country, especially in rural areas like my state of west virginia. while some of my colleagues in congress have proposed various policies, regulations and mandates, they don't create effective long-term markets, falsely inflating that market for recycled goods with federal dollars doesn't help, either. it simply prolonges the unviability of the sector which could end up right back where we are today when the funding is gone. the best way to address the depressed demand for recycled materials is to develop new, innovative markets and technologies. today, we'll learn about one example from mr. hawkensen and he was on our round table, which is georgia pacific's new juneau technology that is rescuing recyclable materials from trash. last week, chairman carp and i hosted a round-table that the chairman talked about where we had the opportunity to learn about some of the technology advances in the recycling sector. one company has successfully
recycled 2 million pounds of post-use polystyrene through chemical recycling. developing and deploying this technology could not have come at a better time as this material was used in the covid-19 vaccine production for everything from testing kits to the cooler shipment boxes that kept the vaccine at the needed temperature during delivery and storage. now, what would have otherwise have been considered trash can be safely recycled into new products like medical-grade and food-grade plastic while reducing waste that ends up in our landfills. the spry chain challenges that emerged and are still with us were among the most significant releasing that struck us i think during covid-19, especially our reliance on other countries to produce essential products. i hope these reality won't quickly be forgotten and that we can use those experiences as motivation to retain and bring back manufacturing jobs in this country. one way we can accomplish this is fostering innovation and not stifling it. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on the west
ways to accomplish that. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator capito. thank you for a wonderful statement and thanks even more for your leadership on this issue. we work on a lot of issues together. i want to gave shout-out to senator john boseman who is the cochair of the senate recycling caucus and his team that for all the work that they do. so i think taylor deserves a special shout-out from your team, senator capito and from senator boseman's office i want to mention andrew kelly and joe brown with a special thanks. and i think we have on our own team here on the majority side of the committee, sitting over my left shoulder, mary francis repco, our staff director and john keen and trevor wallone. i am grateful to all of you and more. all of you and more. it's one of my favoritesation is
from the king sisters from kent county, delaware, dover, members of my team have been forever, teamwork makes the dream work and we've got some pretty good teamwork on this committee and we're going to try to get some dreams accomplished as a result, but thanks again, senator capito for your statement and for everyone who's worked to make today possible. i want to briefly introduce our witnesses and starting with elizabeth biser, secretary of the department of environmental quality for the state of north carolina. sector biser oversees the state agency whose mission is to protect north carolina's environment and natural resources. i understand that you live not far from where my wife's two sisters live in the greater raleigh area. we thank you for joining us today. we're also joined by roberta elisa, director of policy and
government affairs at the world wildlife fund. welcome, great to see you. brian hawkenson again of the american forest paper association will be testifying today. mr. hawkenson is the executive director for recovered fiber at the a.f. and p.a., and we want to thank you for joining us today. good to see you. and our final witness is no stranger to these parts, billy johnson, chief lobbyist of the institute of scrap recycling industries where he works with industry to advance recycling policies and great to see you, welcome today. and why don't we start with secretary biser. you may begin when you're ready. >> mr. chair. >> could i be recognized for unanimous consent request in that this may go longer than i anticipated it would, i do ask unanimous consent that the article i referred to earlier by andrew wheeler be made a part of the record in today's
proceedings, particularly during the deliberations of mr. johnson. >> without objection. okay. so with that, i think we're ready for our first witness, ms. biser. >> chairman carper, ranking member capito, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about north carolina's approach to creating a circular economy. the term circular economy means transitioning from a make-take-waste society to one in which we treat end of life materials as commodities task put to good economic use, creating jobs and economic investment in our communities. north carolina has long been on the path of creating a circular economy. in sharing our lessons learned with you, i'm going to harken back to how we learned about reduce, reuse and recycle. i'll begin with reduce. one of the best ways to reduce waste is prevent it from happening in the first place. 19 years ago, my agency launched
a program called the environmental stewardship initiative. this free and voluntary program is open to any entity in north carolina that wants to go above and beyond the minimum regulatory -- in the past 15 years, our partners have saved over $95 million and have experienced similar results. for example, they've reduced their collective co2 emissions by over 32 million metric tons, which is the equivalent to the co2 from 3.8 million homes for a year. it shows the power of public-private partnerships in creating a more circular economy. next, let's talk reuse. traditionally, reuse is seen in programs, such as refillable --
the ways we prioritize keeping materials within the circular economy by recruiting industries to our state who can use materials. in north carolina, companies like owen's illinois and arda use recycled glass to create new bottles. this is a great example of the circular economy and i'm proud to say that the entire process from the residents playing their bottle in the recycling bin to the rotation at the materials recovery -- all takes place in north carolina. to have the material to feed these businesses, though, we need to recycle. recycling alone isn't the circular economy, but a circular economy can't exist without recycling. having a strong state recycling program, one that supports local recycling programs and
coordinates regional and statewide solutions is a key component for success. in the early 22000s, a combination of policy changes led to significant improvements in our recycling rates. the state established a disposal surcharge, a portion of which supported grant dollars for recycling infrastructure. north carolina also enacted a number of landfill disposal bans for readily recyclable materials, such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles, recognizing that these materials were not waste, but commodities that were needed as vital feedstock by north carolina manufacturers. to complement these policy changes, north carolina led a robust economic development effort to recruit industry and strengthen market demand for recycled materials. now, more than 15,000 north carolinians are directly employed by the recycling sector with a total payroll of $759 million. while north carolina's making great rogue like every state, we have a ways to go before we have
a truly circular economy. we have a lot of work to do to decrease the amount of wasted food ending up in our landfills. according to the epa, wasted food is the largest segment of our waste stream. the usda estimates that 30-40% of our nation's food supply is wasted each year. this waste occurs even as 13.8 million households are experiencing food insecurity and it's not just a waste problem; it's also a climate problem. approximately 15% of total u.s. methane emissions come from landfills. while our work is not done, i appreciate the opportunity today to share north carolina's journey with you with programs that encourage a sourced reduction of waste, a robust economic development effort to support infrastructure and businesses that reuse materials, and a strong state recycling program, we can make real progress towards creating a truly circular economy. thank you.
>> thank you so much. >> thanks. again, my name is roberta elias and i'm the director of policy and government affairs at world wildlife fund. thank you for the invitation to join today. fast moving consumer goods and packaging have become a fixture in all of our lives. unfortunately, as a quantity of nondurable items have grown, so have production impacts and the presence of waste. governance needs to catch up with changing realities. the nation's solid waste management laws were enacted before disposable items became so prevalent and before we fully understood the potential of recycling. currently, 20,000 different municipalities govern the nation's recycling programs, all with different requirements and outcomes. this creates too much uncertainty for industry and confusion for the public. in fact, the number one thing we have heard in conversations with industry is they want clear and consistent rules of the road. they also want assurances that
there will be sufficient, high-quality recycled content to deliver on promises already made to consumers. the number one thing we've heard in talking to the public, including in conversations with many of you is that the nation's recycling system is inaccessible and way too confusing. there are important challenges associated with production and disposal of all materials. however i will focus the remainder of my framing remarks on plastics, the youest and fastest-growing material type. they have also so clearly captured the attention of the american public across demographics and party affiliations and of government leaders. mass reduction of plastics began in many of our lifetimes only about 50 years ago. in that time, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been generated. the vast majority of that 8.3 billion or 75% has become
waste. and if we have a big challenge now, we will have a much bigger one very soon. global plastic production is expected to more than triple by 2050. this growth will account for a full 20% of all oil consumption, 10 to 13% of the entire carbon budget. the current recycling system, which is again disjointed across 20,000 municipalities, functions without clear goalposts and an economic disadvantage to landfills. it simply cannot process the sheer volume of stuff. in the united states, only 34% of all municipal solid waste is recycled and only 13% of plastic packaging. only 2% of plastic packaging is used circularly, where an old product becomes a new one again. the remaining 87% of all plastic packaging, drinks, snacks, the wrapping around the items ship
shipped to our homes, is either incinerated, or leaked into nature. 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, or about one dump truck per minute 24-7, all year long. we have seen increasing information about dramatic games in efficiency and to conservation and health outcomes that can be achieved by shifting use from virgin materials to recycled content. reduction in circularity is also good for business. the few favorable trusts estimated that the comparative cost of plastic leakage to the global economy between a business as usual scenario and a systems change scenario is over $2 trillion. they also concluded that if implemented appropriately, extended producer responsibility could generate over $12 million and save governments $70 billion.
we commend both chambers and particularly senators whitehouse, menendes and sullivan for the strong action already taken. it is time for the next step. wwf and the american beverage association have drafted joint principles submitted for the record which outline key federal policy priorities. related concepts are also supported by our one source coalition, including aba and the beverages, plus mars, unilever, close loop partners, the national recycling coalition and many others. almost 900,000wwf supporters have echoed this call for change. the wwf and aba principles reflect the same concepts that you have elevated many time in common both to the epa and their previous hearings. the key concepts of the system known as extended producer responsibility are phase -- materials, public-private funding mechanisms, accountability, and oversight tied to circular economy
objectives and provisions to achieve public health and environmental justice goals. we hope a national deposit return system will be included in that system. i have 20 more seconds. the break-free from plastic pollution act is the high water mark for epr as articulated above. many support break-free concepts. we hope that stand alone epr legislation will ultimately pass. we also hope that this chamber will make the most of moving vehicles, including to secure public-private investments in infrastructure and national deposit return systems and a virgin plastic fee, such as that articulated in senator whitehouse's reduce act. thank you for your leadership in moving this conversation forward. we are happy to assist in any way that we can as the dialogue continues. >> thank you for your testimony. thanks, very much for those of you you represent here today. next, we're going to hear from brian hawkenson.
please, proceed. >> chairman carper, ranking member capito, thank you very much for the opportunity to talk with you about this important issue today. i'm pleased to share some thoughts on the pulp paper and paper paneling industries' commitment to sustainable practices and share an example of an innovative technology that's increasing the use of recovered paper in manufacturing new products, to provide some context for my remarks i would like to tell you a little bit about the u.s. paper pulp and wood products industry. in the u.s., the industry employs approximately 950,000 men and women, operates 335 paper and paper board mills, more than 4,000 converting facilities, more than 100 recycling facilities, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and representatives 4% of the total u.s. gdp. we've long been responsible stewards of our planet's resources.
the sustainability initiative better practices better planet 2030 compromises one of the most extensive quantifiable sets of sustainability goals for u.s. manufacturing industries, and is the latest example of our members' proactive commitment to the long-term success of our industry, our communities, and the environment. the sustainable practices and innovative technologies were in the industry's dna. two thirds of all the paper used in the u.s. is recycled annually. that turned out to be about 47 million tons in 2020. and that's recycled to make new sustainable paper and paper-based packaging products that people use every day. the industry aims to advance circular value chain and continue to improve the sustainability of our products to meet evolving skirm needs. this includes stating manufacturing process, products and packaging and increasing utilization of recovered fiber and wood residuals in manufacturing across the industry to 50% by 2030.
the industry has announced approximately $500 billion in manufacturing infrastructure investments by 2023 to continue the best use of recovered fibber and manufacturing products. that's about $2.5 million per day. those investments are going to enable the industry to use approximately 8 million additional tons of recovered fiber and manufacturing throughout that period and going forward. this morning, i would like to share an example of an innovative technology ranking member capito. thanks for pointing that out. it's called juneau from one of our members, georgia pacific and it enables them to recover paper that would otherwise go to landfills and use it to manufacture new products. more than 10 years ago, the team at g.e. considered the paper that ends up in u.s. lulls and look forward to ways to capture more of that for use. the initial focus was on paper cups which have been traditionally harder to recycle because of the lining that keeps the contents from leaking.
the team was able to successfully recover paper fiber from those cups, but realized there were some supply chain challenges to collecting only paper cups so they expanded the scope of the project to collect more paper-based waste from fast food restaurants, amusement parks and other facilities, cups, napkins, food wrappers, etc. a pilot plant was built in georgia in 2013. that plant has successfully processed waste generated in all those facilities, fast food restaurants, airports, etc. from there, the team designed and secured permits to build the first processing unit in toledo oregon. it started up operations this past may, and is currently processing waste from the region. the juneau technology process starts with collecting waste from those kinds of commercial resources that typically have the highest concentration of paper-based material. it's important to know that the
material collected for this doesn't pull recycling away from other streams. this is waste that would otherwise be destined to a landfill or an incinerator. the material is bailed and transported, fed into the juneau processing unit. it's an autoclave that uses steam and pressure to sanitize the material. it's essentially the same kind of technology that's commonly used in the mobile industry. the proprietary juneau process sanitizes the waste and separates the paper fiber. the fiber recovered through the juneau process is currently being used to make paper for corrugated boxes in gp's container abroad mill and has also been made to use napkins and paper towels in other company facilities. other recyclable materials are able to go back to their respective recycling markets. anything that cannot be recycled goes to the landfill and based on work so far, gp expects about 90% of what's processed can be diverted from landfills.
as you would expect with a new technology, the teams plan to slow start to allow for adjustments from operating a small pilot plant to a large commercial unit and process about 100,000 tons per year. early in the phased start, the diversion rate from july this year for locally sourced waste tripled from 18% to 54%. and these results are early estimates. they're going to be audited, but it gives you a sense for the ability of the scaleup and perform better. this first commercial scale unit in toledo is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. conversations are under way for licensing other units. georgia pacific and the industry are excited about the new technology's ability to recover more paper from the waste stream and use it in manufacturing new paper and paper-based products. thank you very much and i look forward to the discussion. >> thank you. thank you for a very encouraging presentation. next, we're going to hear from mr. billy johnson.
you're recognized. >> my name is billy johnson. i am the chief lobbyist for the institute of scrap recycling industry. it's an honor to be before you today to discuss the important role of recycling, since recycling is an essential solution to supplier domestic and global supply chains. with sustainable raw material feed stocks that help combat climate change, conserve our natural resources and save energy while employing hundreds of thousands of american workers. it's the voice of the recycling industry. we promote safe, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible recycling with over 1300 members domesticically as well as internationally with over 4,000 facilities in the united states. referred to sometimes, we could be thought of as we're the ants at the picnic. we're everywhere.
so recycling in the united states is an important economic engine and job creator. the recycling industry directly employs more than 164,000 americans while generating over $110 billion in economic activity. these numbers tell the story of a strong u.s. recycling industry, but not one without challenges in key segments. to understand these challenges, it's important to first understand what makes for successful recycling. first, successful recycling requires market demand. if there is no end market to utilize recyclable materials that are collected, they will not be recycled and used again in manufacturing, regardless of the volume of material collected and collection without market consumption is just not recycling. second, successful recycling requires minimal contamination as recyclables are products sold by specification grade with the corresponding value and marketable directly related to
quality. recycling in the u.s. requires far more than what is placed in the cart at the end of the driveway. the recycling infrastructure in the u.s. touches almost every part of our economy, from retail stores, office complexes, residential neighborhoods, schools, factories and even military bases. and the vast majority of the recycled material that flows through the recycling infrastructure does so without any problems, and is transformed by recyclers into clean, high-quality commodity-grade product used throughout the world as a substitute for virgin materials. specifically what makes the residential stream so different is that while it is subject to the same demand-driven end markets, it is saddled with an ever-changing mix of materials on the supply side and that material flows into the stream, whether there is a market for it or not. this sets the residential recycling infrastructure apart from commercial and industrial recycling in the u.s. and that is why it demands a unique approach. because of the visibility of the
challenges being experienced in the residential recycle infrastructure, we have seen a growing loss of confidence in recycling on the part of the general public which is of great concern to all of us in the recycling and manufacturing industries, and i think everyone here would agree. so in any given year, our country's recycling infrastructure processes more than 130 million metric tons of recyclables. however, residential recycling represents only about 20% of the material that works its way through that infrastructure. the other 80% comes from recycling of commercial and industrial materials that tends to be cleaner. second there is no one singular solution to the challenges we're experiencing in the residential recycling infrastructure. the residential recycling change and associated infrastructure in the u.s. is a complex system, which is driven by market demand saddled with a supply chain that is generally not linked to the current market conditions. we think of it as four major
pressure points in the current residential recycling infrastructure and the first is right before the material enters the recycling stream which the decision is made whether to put the item in the bin and in what condition to do so and that's where education efforts can play an important role like the recycle act. the second pressure point is between the municipality and the materials recovery facility or mrf where there is a need for contracting policies and procedures that provide flexibility for market fluctuations. the third pressure point is processing, where, despite investments that are already being made there is a need for additional upgrading of equipment and facilities. the fourth pressure point is following processing, when the recyclables enter the end market. that is where market development is needed. we believe that all stakeholders must come together to develop a common understanding of the weaknesses affecting the residential recycling stream and then work together to develop a menu of solutions that need to be put into place. thank you for this opportunity
to illustrate the complexities of the recycling systems and i look forward to taking some of your questions. >> we look forward to asking those questions and thank you for that statement. another obligation requires his attention, he's asked to go first and i'm happy to do that. he'll be followed by senator whitehouse, and then i think senator capito and onto senator murkly and i'll go late in the game. >> thank you, senator carper and senator capito for your courtesy. my first question references the article i've already made part of the record by andrew wheeler, and it goes to mr. johnson. mr. johnson, i continue to be concerned about the challenges associated with technologies like solar panels and wind turbines and i'm remind of a bloomberg article from last year titled wind turbine blades can't
be recycled so they're piling up in landfills. are you aware of any technologies that exist today that can be reliably -- that can reliably recycle solar panels or wind turbines? particularly the wind turbine blades? >> i know that's a tongue twister. well, first let me compliment andy wheeler who was a phenomenal spokesperson for the recycling industry. he spoke at our meetings as well as many of our friends' meetings, what a terrific advocate for that, as well as his public service announcements for getting the cardboard back during the covid crisis. >> and he endured working for me for 14 years. >> i was going to get to that, but not quite the same way, but to your question, at this point those are terrific challenges.
right now, we are not able to recycle those materials. >> and what's out there? how optimistic are you that something is going to work? >> as i mentioned, market demand. if there's a market demand, my members figure out how to do it. we're business people. and if there's a way, we'll figure it out. right now, we're having -- we haven't quite figured it out. >> the second question is also for mr. johnson. the electric vehicle batteries face a similar recycling challenge and while conventional led acid car batteries are highly recycling, lithium ion batteries used for ev's are very difficult to recycle. mr. johnson, are you concerned that if we don't adequately plan and prepare for the disposal of spent electric vehicle
batteries, solar panels and wind turbines that we're postal potey creating a new superfund site. would you characterize it that way? >> the definition of super fund site, i would quibble with you, but there's a very large concern with recycling electric vehicle batteries. i would first start with the safety issues. even while fully discharged, they can be quite dangerous and harm if not kill the people trying to remove them from the cars. after that, there's a number of problems with the fact that the electric vehicle batteries, right now, there's four or five, six different chemistries that are not compatible with one another, and so it's -- the vhs beta max situation where we're waiting for the standard of one of those to sort of win out.
in the meantime, for actually processing or recycling the batteries themselves, there's a lot of investment going into it right now to try to take care of what's coming in at this point. cars usually last around 12 years on average, so we're starting to see some of these electric vehicles come into our facilities now and so we're trying to respond to that. there is a lot of investment going into it, but right now, i do not believe that we have the capacity to handle it, and it's going to have to ramp up very quickly, especially with the projections from the administration to try to get much more -- many more recyclable electric vehicles on the road. >> okay mr. johnson. i appreciate that very much and you might separately send me a document as to where we quibble okay? and thank you very much to the
chair. >> thank you. senator whitehouse. >> thank you very much chairwoman. ms. elias, i would like to talk about plastic waste recycling and where we are on that. we've put considerable effort into plastic waste recycling. a great many americans have a blue bin that they fill with recyclables to take out there. there's a lot of noise and talk about recycling and the industry likes to talk up recycling to help create the general apprehension or the general appearance that plastic gets recycled. but the information that i have
is that on the input side, when particularly single-use plastics are being manufactured, 98 or 99% of the input is virgin plastic, leaving less than 2%, maybe 1%, one in 100, to be sourced as recycled plastic. i mean that rounds basically to zero. so when the plastics industry is manufacturing plastics products and in this case particularly single-use plastics, the disposable stuff, there's essentially no meaningful recycled contribution. so to me, that's kind of a significant measurement. if you go to the takeup side, the so-called recycling side, the statistics i have are that
less than 10% of what actually goes into that blue bin ever gets recycled. it may not be recyclable in the first place because there's not very clear marking as to what plastics are and are not recyclable and it may end up in a landfill or end up on a container ship, smashed together and packed up to someplace in asia where it ends up in a landfill there and after time, washes down creeks and rivers and ultimately into the sea. and at the same time that we have essentially zero recycling input into plastics manufacturing, and less than 10% of real recycling and what we consider to be our recycling stream, we are dumping, as a world, so much plastic into the ocean that we're headed for as the chairman suggested, if things don't change, there's going to be more waste plastic
floating around in the ocean than there are fish swimming around in the ocean by mass. and that's just a rotten thing to do to the planet and it's a horrible legacy for grandchildren and kind of on us to do something about that, i would think. so i would like your comment on whether you think, first of all, my facts are right, that we're essentially zero on input, that we're under 10% real recycling and the rest of it is kind of performance art to stand up a relatively fake narrative that recycling is real, and at the end of the day, most of this stuff ends up in regular waste streams and some of that is very irresponsibly done in foreign countries and in oceans. pretty fair description? what should we do about it? >> that's absolutely a fair description and very much -- >> are you miked? >> you're good to go. >> is that good? >> yep. >> thank you. technology is not my strong
suit. but your facts are absolutely right and very much consistent with what we've heard in the past, and in conversations with various experts. again, i'll reiterate thank you so much. you and senator sullivan in so many ways started this conversation in the senate with save our seas and 2.0. your staff has been amazing. i think we're at a point now where we need to do take that next step because of the performance art that you discussed. i think we really need a system like extended producer responsibility as proposed in senator murkly's break free from pollution act. there's so much stuff coming into our homes and the vast majority of it, 87% of our plastic packaging is either being landfilled, burned, or leaked into nature, and because of the artificially low prices on virgin plastic materials, we're just going back to the earth to create that next set of materials, instead of having the circle. the life span is actually a line, taking petrochemicals from
the earth, turning it into a product, and while any number of these materials are absolutely essential, masks, medical equipment, all the important food-grade plastics that address some of our food insecurity and food waste issues, a lot of it is stuff we don't want and we don't need and is being seen as a growth industry for some of our friends in the plastics industry. we actually commissioned public opinion polling by a great firm, corona insights, and what they heard in their conversations with people around the world, it was something like 86% of the public feel like there's just too much stuff coming into their lives and it's become unavoidable. if you want to buy something, it's going to come in that packaging, you're going to put it in your blue bin, hoping that it will be recycled, hoping it will achieve circularity and very much knowing that it will not. what's good about the break free from plastic pollution act and i hope will become a discussion
topic -- this is why it's supported by the american beverage association, similar concepts by a number of our other friends, is it sets real standards for recyclability, recovery and market symbols through ecomodulation to shift production and use from materials that can't be recycled that have a big impact on the environment and on public health, to materials that can feasibly be recycled and really put dollars towards the kind of innovation we need to see to make recycling actually work. i think it's a win-win. there's broad support for it. industry, when aba came to us and said we want every bottle back, we want old bottles to become new bottles, i think they really meant it and industry is willing to put dollars into the system to have some assurances that they'll have consistent, high-quality access to recycled content going forward so when you buy your beverage, you buy your snack, you feel good about what's inside of it and what's outside of it so thank you for the question and thank you for
your incredible leadership. >> my time has expired, but i would add as a chemistry note that this stuff doesn't break down back into natural things. it just lives on as plastic indefinitely. natural stuff breaks down into natural things and that's part of the cycle of life. plastic is new to this world and it doesn't break down in the way the good lord set up the earth to be able to cycle things. thank you. >> thank you. thanks for your leadership and that of our colleague from alaska, very, very much. senator capito has graciously agreed to yield to others here, and i think senator merkley is next, followed by senator -- jeff, thank you. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. and i was just looking at at a
chart put together to compare all 50 states and their recycling rates and particularly looking at the plastic bottle challenge and there are four states, five actually, that have hit over 50%. maine at 78%, oregon at 69%, vermont 51%, california new york at 57%. and then the vast bulk of the states are under 20%. ms. biser, i was wondering about north carolina, because of the important work you're doing in many sectors, but in this category of plastic bottles, 8% on north carolina. it's pretty far down there. has north carolina considered how to really focus on this problem of plastic bottles? there's the expression that was in the testimony of reduce, reuse, recycle, but with plastic bottles, the truth is it's
burned, buried or borne out to sea, all three of which create significant environmental challenges. as we wrestle with this state by state, oregon was the first one to have a bottle bill. i'm disappointed to see that maine has a higher recycling rate than us, but at least we're hanging in there in second. hopefully, to improve. but has north carolina considered the possibility of doing something to boost themselves from the 8% level to the above 50% level through some sort of deposit strategy or other strategy? >> thank you for that question, senator. there has not been any bottle deposit legislation introduced recently. north carolina has focused on its return of p.e.t. bottles, though. we have some important industries and market demand in the state, it's important that we find the materials to feed. unify, which is located in a rural county in our state is a good example of that, where when we were using textile jobs back
in the 2000s, they found a way to convert p.e.t. to polyester yarn, but we need to find a way to help folks like unify get those bottles. we found significant -- and i'm not sure about the 8% number you referenced, but we have found success before -- actually doubled our plastic bottle recycling rate about a decade ago. again, not nearly where it needs to be, but by investing in curbside recycling programs, market development grants and a lot of education for our residents, but we do have a long ways to go. >> well, the thing that those states that are over 50% and up have in common is a deposit system and so ms. elias, no state has succeeded in having a significant amount of bottles recycled without a deposit system. as we look to best examples, is
that kind of the best example we have or the best strategy we have right now is to encourage recycling through a deposit? >> yeah, we absolutely think that a deposit return system needs to go hand in love with an apr system. we've absolutely seen that deposit-return system proud an incredible incentive for consumers to bring that product back, get it back into the recycling system, have it presorted so that product can become a product again. p.e.t. has incredible ability to become a new product time and time again. p.e.t. only represents 7% of what's in the blue bin, so we're really looking for something that gets that material back, but also, addresses the other 93% and figures out a way for it to continue to have value in the system. we would like to see both. >> great, and extended producer
responsibility, i appreciate your focusing on it and highlighting it because there's many different forms it can come in, but i think that is essential. you noted kind of the growing skepticism of consumers, and so i was this weekend, up in erie, pennsylvania, and the hotel had paper plates and the paper plates said recyclable and renewable in big print and little, tiny print, i took a picture of it and i just thought about that as you were speaking. and i went back and just now and it says recyclable and renewable in big print, and then it has a star by the recyclable and it says may be recycled if you have access -- such facilities may not exist in your area. and then on renewable, it has two stars, and it says contains 91% renewable material and it
goes on to define renewable material as new trees. and so it's not actually recycled content. and so it's really confusing right? because you see recyclable and renewable, this means they're using existing fiber being recycled from other products and yay for that, and then you read the details, and it's like this is coming from trees and if you have food on it, it's probably not going to get reused. do we need to really work at having terms or a system where people kind of can go this product actually is recycled or really is recyclable in most cases and not kind of this fine print, well kind of pretend. [off microphone] >> is that good?
thank you. first of all, paper products are made from a renewable resource. that's wood fiber from trees that are infinitely renewable or recycled fiber that's been used once before and put into the plate, so the paper plate it said it was made from renewable fiber is made from renewable fiber, whether that's new fiber or recycled fiber and it is recyclable depending on the collection system in the jurisdiction that you're in. federal trade commission establishes definitions for what marketing claims can be made around the title of recyclability and the threshold for being widely recyclable is at least 60% of u.s. population has access to an established -- >> i'm going to cut you off there, because my basic question is aren't these terms confusing to people? and you're going into a long definition of yes, there's definitions behind them, great. but i have a better question for you -- >> can i answer that question? >> no, because my time's running out and i want to ask you a better question.
>> okay. >> can you come up with a paper lid to replace this plastic lid on a mcdonald's cup? because the world would bless you. and you have one right in front of you so how do we replace these single-use plastics with something like paper, which is so much more decomposable and recyclable than this plastic? >> senator, i think there are members who are working on that right now, looking for applications and innovations in manufacturing processes, different kinds of packaging that will solve some of the problems that we're faced with other packaging substrates. >> thank you. mr. chairman i'll close by saying the problem plastics have exploded; the plastic in the seas will soon be equal to the weight of all the fish, the microplastics are a big problem. we are all consuming it's
estimated a credit card of plastic every week in our food, air and water, it's very unhealthy, especially for our children. the chemicals that are embedded in the plastic are really unhealthy so we have to focus on this plastics challenge. >> amen. okay. thanks for getting here early and staying late. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to first add my voice to the choir in addressing plastics and plastic resins are in everything and that is the challenge and it isn't a natural fiber. so it's been important to our committee, it's important in many ways, but we have to get our arms around this on recycling regimen and i have to tell you, i put in a plug for a company, i wear shoes every day that are made from recycled plastics, mr. chairman. i feel like i should be --
they're called rothy, i feel like i should be a sales person because i've converted several women in the senate to be wearing them. i'll be talking to our ranking member about this. but we just need to be serious and aggressive in terms of what needs to happen. i did want to share one other thing, too, in talking earlier about e.v.'s, i just wanted to let you know. there is really important work being done on recycling right now and a lot of industries, a lot of companies in michigan doing research and development, and now are actually recycling and there's more that needs to be done, but ford is partnering with a battery recycling startup to reuse the raw materials from ev battery packs, just announced it a couple of days ago. and general motors is doing a major effort to educate the
public on removing and recycling battery packs and nissan is reusing old batteries for automated vehicles. i know toyota is working with folks in michigan, taking batteries that aren't used in automobiles anymore, but using them for golf carts. it's all kinds of ways that we're looking at it, and volkswagen is doing the same thing on recycling and creating their first recycling plant in germany. we would have love to have it in the united states. that's another discussion. but the point is there's a lot being done and it needs to be done. i want to actually ask mr. hawkinson a question. you're the success story and i'm very excited that a lot of that success actually happens in michigan around paper recycling and the work that's being done and more that needs to be done, but when we're talking about a 2020 paper recycling rate of two
thirds basically with more than 47 million tons of paper recovered, that's very impressive. i wish we had the same in plastics and other materials. but i know that there's more that we can do to support you, and i wanted you to respond. there's a bill i've introduced called the protect america's paper for recycling, the paper act, and chairman is a cosponsor and senator boseman is a cosponsor and others, have good bipartisan support, but this would stop waste to internal facilities from earning a tax credit for burning recyclable papers. we don't want that burned; we want to recycle it; we want to use it again. and so could you -- talk more about what you're doing, but also how this legislation could help you build on that success. we have policies right now that are going against what you're trying to do and we need to fix
it. >> thank you, senator stabenow and thank you very much for your leadership on this issue. paper and paper-based packaging mills are looking for new fiber, sourcing all they can to make new products. a big problem is government incentives might divert paper recovered for use in things other than manufacturing. we appreciate the work you're doing in leadership in making sure that doesn't happen. so, for example, someone might divert commonly recycled paper for use in combustion to generate energy would not count as recycling. we think it's very important to protect the recovered fiber stream for use in manufacturing. we support the legislation. we submitted a letter of support for that and wholeheartedly thank you for the work you're doing on that. >> thank you. hopefully, we can get this done. secretary biser, thank you for the work you're doing in north carolina and in our bipartisan infrastructure bill that we
passed. a bill of mine with senator portman, the recycle act, was included as you know, and when you're talking about -- educating individuals as well as working with local governments in states and so on, i think so important, but could you talk a little bit more about assisting local governments in recycling education efforts and how does improving these practices really reduce cross-contamination that lores recycling rates? right now, we have a problem if folks aren't doing it right. so could you speak a little bit more about that? >> sure and senator, let me, first of all, thank you for your leadership on the recycle act. that's an important source of funding for states like mine to carry that message to our residents who, you know, poll after poll shows are confused about how to recycle right. and so you know, what that --
what those dollars can go to help support are programs like north carolina recently completed where we worked with material recovery facilities within the state and mapped out what was accepted by each of those programs, and then there's 18 -- we called it a mrf shed map. there are 18mrf sheds within the state. our recycling program created customized educational materials for each of those sheds and worked with local governments in each of those areas to do a targeted social media campaign. and social media, but also traditional education, as well. and so having additional funding to do and so having additional funding to do that on a more recurring basis would be very useful. there's a lot of great traditional education methods that can be used, but there's also some innovative methods such as cart tagging where folks get actual feedback on what's in their bins. you have. it's a, it's a program that can be done where you know, folks
walk ahead of the recycling truck, look in it and get a little tag that says, hey, you know, oops, you, you may have included plastic bags for example, and you know, we'll come back and recollect , i kind of compare it to if i tell my daughter not to leave your socks out, you know, and have her do it versus me kind of putting it back in for her, the more we can engage our residents in how they're recycling correctly, the less contamination and that leads to lower cost for the local recycling programs in there, murph contracts as well. >> thank you very much. thank you. mr chairman >> thanks for much for your leadership on these issues. that's great. and theresa called chorus and i was on your friend. we scare a friend who's calling -- we share a friend who's calling towards calling, who is passionate about these issues as well. we're just discussing some of this over the weekend. all right, thanks. ok.
>> thank you. mr chairman mr johnson. i mentioned in my opening statements that china had changed its policy towards accepting materials from our country. i'm wondering as the market already responding to this. what are you seeing in terms of how this is making our system more resilient or what kind of impact does it have? >> yes, thank you. yes, i think in some of the commodities have already made terrific adjustments paper being really a fine example of it. the metals industry, which is a large portion of our membership has also been able to improve their their quality as well. you know, one of the things that is, it looks like most people look at this situation and they say, you know, that china close the door to all this material. i think it's also, it's a wake up call, it's a wake up call to say that, you know, we can do a lot better with processing our materials and recycling them and reusing them here in this country as well as other places. so, many of the, many of the commodities have already
adjusted pretty well. >> let me ask you another question. you know, i'm from a rural state west virginia. i live in the capital city, we've had recycling bins here and there, but it's unsustainable for the municipality. they just, they can't afford it, they don't have the manpower, but not not just that the funds to be able to transport and figure out what to do with this, i would imagine in rural america, this is a huge problem. what kind of solutions have you seen? is it a hub and spoke kind of solution or mr johnson, what would you, what are your members seeing? and i'm i'm talking more residential, but it could be small businesses, small manufacturing, recycling as well. >> yes, in the traditional way that recycling works with medals to uh, all the other uh, you know, the commercial industrial as well as the residential, what we, we would turn them in the, in the more of the scrap side of the businesses, feeder yards. and so what you're doing is you're collecting and in lots of places and then based on the transportation cost, delivering it to more of a central location where there's the technique
where you have the, the equipment, the machinery, the technology to be able to make it into a high grade commodity to them to be reused again. >> yeah, i mean, i think that's when you talk about education, i'm sure you run into this in north carolina. it's just a very, it's so stop and start and, and, and then when i heard miss elias talk about deposit, i thought about when i was growing up, probably you too. mr chairman, you know, we had coke bottles that you would have the empty ones and you would take them back and you know, they had value and it was just the way you did things. and then that sort of, i guess in the advent of plastics that that went by the wayside, so maybe that was a good technology was forward, forward thinking. mr hawkinson, i understand there's a burning question that my staff wanted me to ask our pizza boxes recyclable. -- are pizza boxes recyclable.
>> yes, and thank you for asking that question. i think this is one of the remaining sort of urban legends around paper recycling. pizza boxes are recyclable. uh, we set out to put out an industry statement to try to raise awareness and eliminate confusion in the marketplace around this issue a couple of years ago. and as we do with all of our issues, we gathered facts to make sure that we had the data right. and upon which to make this statement. so we went out to our member mills who conse the two grades -- who consume the two grades most likely to have pizza boxes, old corrugated containers and mixed paper. what we found is that 93.6% of all of that fiber consed in our member mills of those grades that contained pizza boxes are accepted for recycling in the mills, so overwhelmingly accepted. they are widely accepted in the community recycling programs. we hope that uh, any other community recycling programs that don't currently accept them do so >> well, i think what we're
gonna see later this afternoon was breaking news crawls. pizza boxes are recyclable. >> what if the pizza is still inside? >> i'm glad you brought that up because one of the questions we asked the research was, are there any things that preclude your ability to use these in manufacturing? and as you might imagine, pizza was the top answer. so probably the best way to think about this and remember it is pizza boxes are recyclable. pizza is not, >> well, my pizza box was empty. ok, so let me ask one other serious question here. you've obviously had great success in the, uh, in the forest and paper association with recycling with your gina technologies. another, we've heard a lot about plastics and the low nbers. -- the low numbers. what lessons learned from what you've been able to do and hearing the testimony today and concerns from members would you say could be correlated to a more efficient and successful plastics recycling
[inaudible] microphone? >> sorry. uh, as you recognize the paper, second rate reached 65%, 65.7%, 2020. that's about double what it was in 1990 and it didn't get there by accident. it is the result of the industry's recognition that we wanted to recycle more of our products. made investments in collection infrastructure, made a commitment to recycle more. we're doing a lot of education for consers about what's -- for consumers for about what's recyclable and how to recycle properly. and importantly, we're making investments in manufacturing technology to enable us to use more recycled fiber. i mentioned the nber earlier. -- the number earlier. about $5 billion dollars in manufacturing infrastructure to use recovered fiber that's going to come online began in 2018 will come online through 2023. that sort of private sector investment is enabling us to use
more fiber and increase the recycling rates for our products. >> and i would imagine to it also increases as you do that, it increases urine rate urine -- it increases your user rate at the other end of the recycling life. i mean there's some there's somebody there to buy your product and use it and have it be efficient and all that. and i think that's an issue. thank you. mr. chairman. >> thank you. caller: >> thank you senator capito. no, i while we know there is a whole suite of policy options that are available to us on this front. could could each of you to share this is for the entire panel. but can you try to share with us? uh, maybe the top one or two, top one or two legislative actions that congress could take should take within the next year or so to really move move the needle and help us move toward a more circular economy. and i'm going to ask miss, why should go first please?
i just wanted to, just got to do ideas. >> one of those items. senator is i'll have to thank the committee for it's work in working on infrastructure and education and investment. that can go down to states without the help of the federal government. we don't have the dollars available at the state level to sufficiently invest the level that we need to. that's a great example of water and wastewater infrastructure is a great example of the money that's coming to the state that we're gonna be able to deploy to communities. you know, similarly recycling could benefit from that investment as well. the second thing i would say is grants and technical assistance to help grow state programs, , states really have an important role to play in helping local governments and connecting with on the ground action and the stronger the state program, the more regional and localized solutions we can develop to help support those communities who may not have the resources to address those issues otherwise, >> thank you.
same question. >> thank you. you know, this issue is so teed up at this point and there's such a broad consensus for really making significant action across communities by industry, by the public from tennessee to maine california to alaska. so i would go for the whole thing at this point and kind of see how far we can get. so my two things would be , real policy signals to reduce truly unnecessary and problematic materials. any system is not going to be able to handle the sheer vole of -- sheer volume of materials that are being used. the public doesn't want as many materials coming into their homes and into their lives. and the second piece is really to get the conversation going on extended producer responsibility, including a national bottle bill to get the market signals to really deliver the results that people and industry want to see and to ensure equity and parity between industries like paper that have really been leading the charge and other industries and really lift all boats. so it's a big job but i really appreciate you having the conversation and continuing to
move the ball forward. >> thank you for being a part of that conversation. mr. hawkinson. >> [inaudible] i'm going to get it right soon. thank you. >> this is your last chance to get it right. >> the recy-- the recycle act. we think that that the funding especially that goes to epa is important. there are a nber of things that it can do. we think the most important thing is the funding that will go to states, indian tribes and communities that will do things like enable them to conduct community needs assessments to understand gaps in their programs so that they can fill that so that they can understand
and adapt effective practices in the work that they're doing and also funding to states so that they can provide technical assistance to the communities. we think that by being able to leverage those resources, communities are going to be able to make lasting improvements in their recycling programs. the second thing that the government can do is to stay out of the supply chains for paper manufacturing, things like mpr -- things like epr which are well intentioned are in place in the us for things that are hard to recycle, mattresses, batteries, paint those sorts of things for products like paper and paper based packaging. the collection system is well established as well participated in. we have a very high recycling rate. epr is not going to appreciably increased the recycling rate for our products. it is however attacks on -- a tax on packaging which will cause manufacturers to divert funds to paying that tax that could otherwise good making investments in manufacturing. and that tax is going to disproportionately affect lower income americans who spend a larger percentage of their of
their funds on food and other necessities that come in paper based packaging. so not adopting any pr at the -- adopting epr at the national level would be a great thing to do. another great thing to do would be to not adopt higher recycled content mandates for products every time a paper mill makes a product it balances the source of fiber it uses based on availability, cost performance on the paper machine and the finished product characteristics, recycled content mandates forced fiber from products where it is most efficiently used into products where it is less efficiently used creating both economic and environmental negative impacts. >> great. that's there's a lot that's a lot to digest. that's good. thanks thanks so much. mr johnson policing question. -- same question. and then i'm going to yield to our colleague from alaska.
welcome to you. thanks ready go ahead please. well he's -- brian stole all my stuff. so repetition is a good thing actually. it is played through. somebody told me the other day. we don't really absorb an idea that we've heard it 15 times. i agree with both of his, but they shouldn't count against mine. >> so i get to add some the first is, and i'll add into it is to policies that would encourage market development. market development is the demand side. that's going to pull everything through the system. that's how the market works, that's why people you know, pay in the recycling system. the other would be to encourage recycled content, but not mandates we would want, you know, encouragement. it could come through all types of forms from tax incentives as well as just explaining to the people through the recycle act why it's so important actually take you back to the world war two efforts when we brought all our old metal and things like that to the scrapyard to go back into being used in the in the war effort.
the second one would be promoting design. you need to design the products at the very at the very, very beginning of the system in order to make it easier to recycle to get the better yields back out of those products. and that makes recycling much more efficient. and effective. and since you gave me the option for three, i'm gonna throw one more in and and that is to actually change the nomenclature and actually the regulations in treating recyclables and recycling as a solid waste management system. we are i think we've all said this before here is that recyclables are valuable commodities. they are being used in manufacturing. this is the this this is what manufacturers have done for a long time and by treating them as solid waste, it imposes a number of burdens and costs as well as we talk about recycle -- recyclables as as waste as
trash. and it's certainly it's just the opposite of that. so i would encourage the committee to look at legislation to have e. p. a. to reform the record for recycling. it's an act that was written a long time ago and making those changes i think would make both an appearance as well as a technical and illegal pathway -- and a legal pathway towards recycling being much more efficient. >> collectively you provide a great to do list for our colleagues and they were grateful for the senator sullivan, your name has been used not in vain earlier. but with some of the good work that you've done with senator white house and others please proceed. >> thank you. mr chairman. and i appreciate the witnesses here. i do want to talk just briefly about you know, the save our seas act and the save our seas 2.0 i think that's an example with senator white house and all of
us really working together where you got key stakeholders, a lot of you guys were critical and important in getting this over the goal line and working on both the executive branch the congress industry, key conservation environmental groups all work together on this. so you know and you don't get everything you want. that's just the nature of getting things done here. right. and so i think this issue though is really a unifying issue. you can get democrats and republicans and industry and environmental groups all on board and i think we want to keep the moment. -- the momentum. so let me ask miss lise and mr johnson you may have seen in the infrastructure bill. there is significant funds on the implementation of save our seas 2.0 that's got a domestic international component. what would you see as important steps that we can take kind of on the implementation side of that legislation to make sure we continue this moment.
-- this momentum? >> thanks senator sullivan and thank you again for your leadership on save our seas and save our seas. 2.0. i was in the room, you had a great event with senator white house and the alliance and plastic waste and that was about to be reintroduced and those are fantastic bills obviously, thank you too, mary eileen. there are any nber of important -- any number of important pieces in that. i was on the phone with you a couple weeks ago with a b. a. where? and the crs study was it that said the most comprehensive plastics legislation or materials legislation ever. i am not going to remember every provision that are in both of those bills but we are very happy to see funding and full implementation going and we'll continue to keep an eye on. >> thank you, mr johnson. you have a view at all. or maybe i'm being too, you know, i don't want to put you guys on the spot for quizzes on different sections, but just next steps in general on that.
again, there's good momentum and people want to see that, right? who doesn't want to protect our oceans? clean up our oceans, keep sustainable oceans, sustainable fisheries. these are huge issues for my state. over 60% of all the seafood harvested in america comes from alaska. we have more coastline than the rest of the lower 48 combined. so, these are big issues for my constituents, but i think they're big issues for all americans. >> yes, sir. and we fully support the save our seas 1.0 and 2.0. and thank you very much for doing all of that. i completely agree with you. i guess they i'd almost repeat some of the things i said to mr carper just now, uh, encouraging how it weighs for my industry to -- encouraging ways for my industry to to be able to recycle all that plastic to get that plastic out of the seas and to find uses for it. uh, that would be a great thing. our members are are, you know, when we get it, it's it is a contaminated source.
and so some of the improvements to technology could be great research and development for that as well as the as the markets for that material that there's something. so instead of just pulling it out of the sea and burying it or burning it to find some uses for it. even if they're low level uses, that would be great. good. >> let me ask. this is really for all the witnesses in my state, it's estimated that nearly 70 of -- 70% of households do not have access to curbside recycling and any transition to a circular economy that leaves rural america out i think is going to fail. so what do you recommend on how to address this issue? you know, i have met many, many smaller communities throughout alaska that are remote and have
a difficult time accessing any of these programs. so what are the best tools to increase access for recycling, particularly in remote communities? maybe we'll start with the han -- with you. >> first of all, senator sullivan, thank you for your leadership in these issues. rural recycling does present challenges. we have a fair amount of role, -- of rural communities in north carolina as well. particular challenges in alaska. one of the things that you have to pay attention to is looking at how to make the economics of recycling work in rural communities and one of the ways to do that is through hub and spoke systems and that is providing those central locations where it may not be economical for small towns to have their own contracts for recycling pickup, but they can centralize their collection of central place and then it makes economics work much better to have those types of accessibility. there's also, i know alaska does not have a material covering
facility in the state which adds to the challenges, but having processing close by is also helpful. and again with the market demand of creating the industries or attracting industries that can use that material as feedstock. and then lastly, i would say investing in curbside, you know, after you take care of those those first two, it's also just investing in the ability to bring carts to communities, making sure that their they've got the right education on how to use those carts in the right way and to help create the circular economy in rural america. >> good. that's really good answer. any anyone else wants to address this topic. >> yes please. and i'll also answer your previous question in some more detail. wwf supports and celebrates alaska's fisheries. there's some of the absolute best manager in the world as follow up. we would love to see further action on the ghost gear issues that represents such an amazing threat to well managed fisheries around the world. so that and also us essentially a session really having the u.
-- having the u.s. have a seat at the table at the basel convention. so both really international issues on your second question. wwf supports a federal flexible framework to kind of lift up all regions of the country in the recycling space, but that system is not gonna work for different areas. it needs to be flexible enough that it can be implemented where people work and live and really bring private dollars to the table to make that collection work. it's unrealistic to think that they will ever be enough federal dollars and it's not at the end of the day necessarily a federal responsibility to make recycling work. but the good news is that the private industry really does want to invest. we'd like to see all the 20,000 municipalities that are in charge of recycling right now have some sort of additional financial support and real goal posts for what that system should look like. and hopefully some of those dollars would make it to the right place in alaska and elsewhere. >> good, great answer. thanks anyone else?
>> [inaudible] >> [laughter] >> your time is explaining. -- is expired. along with our patience. >> promise to get it right before along with our patients. all right, you got to thank you last year, like i hear you're going to get hammered, you know, it just happens. all right, here we go. we're big fans of public private partnerships. we are an inaugural funder of the recycling partnership which channels private funding and technical expertise into communities to help build out collection infrastructure, education and the ability to help improve starter, improve recycling programs in those communities to put up matching funds. we think that's a great model that could be used in alaska to improve recycling there great, thank you. >> last word >> i know how to use your mike. yes, the hub and spoke is probably a very good way i think for alaska and some of the other
large states like that, everything it recycling is a local activity and so i think alaska is gonna need to think about how it works best for alaska versus how it would be best, you know, in another state. so i think it's it's gonna it is a going to be up to alaska to figure that out for themselves and that one of the things i would suggest that with the hub in spoke is making with the education through the recycle act, is to have people understand what they're recycling to get a better quality and is that quality -- as that quality raises up and you're the value of the material increases and when the value of the material increases the costs for running the program as well as the transportation then can be included in in the product. and that may help make the program work a lot better. >> right, right, thank you very much. thank you mr chairman, thanks for joining us today. >> thanks very much partnering
with our friend the white house and a great effort greater the couple that we get a lot done. we need more odd couples. and i understand over your left shoulder is mary eileen man. and for the record, i just want to say i could barely see her lips move when you spoke. and i want to thank her for her good work on doesn't work as -- >> she does great work. one last question and we're gonna wrap and go vote and go to other hearings and so forth. are taking place quick question for miss peyser if if i manners. uh, i think you mentioned that some 30, of our nation's food supply is wasted. and while nearly 14 million americans, a lot of them are kids, experienced food insecurity. what actions has the state of north carolina taken to incentivize composting and food waste reduction efforts. >> thank you for that question. senator carper. this is an important issue and one that we have a ways to go where we have started in north carolina is to help support local community programs who are doing drop offs for food waste donation.
and what we're seeing is that there's been great response from the residents in those communities when that option is made available. so we're currently exploring the opportunity to expand that within the state. if i may senator, i may. as we're looking at how we can expand this. i might make some suggestions for how you all can help support that effort as well. one of it, you know, thinking about the e.p. a. food waste hierarchy. the nber one thing to do is to prevent food waste from occurring in the first place and having istance whether it's -- having assistance whether it's through grants to states, for example for providing technical assistance to large generators of food ways to be very helpful. programs like the environmental stewardship initiative could be expanded to help provide that technical assistance and reduce it to start with. second of all in that food hierarchy is feeding hungry people. as you mentioned, the nearly 14 million households that are food insecure. there are items that could help
states especially like mine that have a lot of agriculture such as transitioning from a food donation tax deduction to a tax credit for those who don't have a lot of margin on their income. that could be a much more effective way to incentivize through donation and further clarifying the food liability, the food donation liability through the emerson act. and then lastly, organics recycling is a nascent recycling compared to things like alin cans, or cycle bottle or paper. and so the more infrastructure and education help we can get to help support those markets on the more the federal government can help by supporting the purchasing of compost for example to help a strength in that market, all those things would be hugely helpful as the states are looking at their approach to this important issue. >> thank you. let me just as we prepare to close out, i just want to thank uh, on behalf of senate capital, myself and everyone on this committee staffs as well. it worked really hard on this
stuff. we want to thank you for really excellent testimony to excellent test, very helpful. you helped us appreciate that are wasting related climate challenges are vast but not insurmountable. i'm passionate as you know, a lot of us are passionate about the promise of a circular economy to meet these challenges and allow us to have a more sustainable future. and my hope, our hope is that today's hearing will inspire and guide us all strive together to achieve that more promising future. i love the issue of recycling, loved it forever. i know you do too, is part of my dna and i know i speak for senator capito and senator bozeman who provides great leadership on these issues along with sheldon and dan sullivan and others. but we're in a situation, we've got a lot of people who are still looking for jobs will get a jobs report the labor for , in about 10 days we'll get one for the month of september, you know, show how many people have found jobs, hopefully a lot. so how many people are still looking for work and it will be a lot.
and this is just a great way, this is these industries, this is a great way to put people to work, including people whose skills and they don't have master's degrees are phds in -- or phd's in most cases, but they may not even have gone to college, but they can work, they want to work and we can put a lot of people to work here. we can do uh, strike a blow on -- recylable on behalf of climate change and and help us address address that we can address blight, you know, and my wife and i took a road trip center capuano knows and when we had a week off back in the recess and we just drove around about four or five states and too much polite, too much in -- too much blight in delaware and, and in other places as well. north carolina looked pretty darn good if you let me say that and but there's, this is a, there's a great, great opportunities there for here. it's just knocked the ball at the park on so many different ways and the uh, you've, you've helped us, i think move the needle, help us movie that -- helped us move, ,and inspired
us uh, with what, what can actually be done here, my staff says, my wife says, you say you quote opera einstein way too -- i quote albert einstein way too much and too things that einstein said that i, i only know two quotes one of his definition of sanity to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. but the one i really love is in adversity lies opportunity. there is huge adversity here, huge adversity here. we see it every day as we travel through our neighborhoods are in -- or in our states. we see it when we were in our rivers and what's in our oceans. great adversity, real opportunity to opportunity to o. opportunity to strike a blow for our planet. an opportunity to put a lot of people to work and to leave this earth a better place for our kids and grandchildren. so that's that's a challenge. that's your opportunity. thank you for helping us to realize that opportunity with that i think i i need to say some housekeeping, unanimous consent. i'd ask unanimous consent to submit for the record a variety of materials that include letters from stakeholders and other materials relate to
today's hearing. is there objection? i don't hear any. and additionally senators will be allowed to submit questions for the record through the close of business on wednesday october 6, will compile those questions, send them to our witnesses and ask the witnesses to reply by wednesday october the 20th. anything else? good being your wing man. thank you all very, very much with that. this hearing is adjourned and i think we have votes on the floor and i have to get to my other committee hearing before it breaks? thank you all.
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