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Resource Recycling editorial analysis: Where recycling could feel EPA cuts

- Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fibrex GroupAfter he spent a good chunk of his campaign blasting the Environmental Protection Agency, it was hardly surprising that Donald Trump would take a knife to the EPA budget once he was actually in office. But the Trump administration’s proposed 31 percent slash last week has nevertheless raised eyebrows everywhere, including the recycling industry.

Under President Trump’s budget blueprint, the federal environmental agency would cut 3,200 positions from its staff, which currently numbers around 15,000. It would also eliminate more than 50 individual EPA programs. All told, the president wants to cut $2.6 billion from the EPA’s budget.

When it comes to funding materials recovery programs in America, most public dollars come from state and local sources, not the U.S. EPA. But recycling and the agency are still intimately intertwined.

The EPA’s annual solid waste report, for example, offers key information for industry benchmarking numbers. And the agency has been critical in convening stakeholders to develop markets for recyclable materials and put other plans into action on a regional level. The agency has also of late served as a powerful voice when it comes to prioritizing food waste reduction efforts and transitioning toward a sustainable materials management mode of thinking.

Trump’s proposal is still a long way from actual implementation – Congress ultimately determines the nation’s budget, and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition to the president’s proposal. But the Trump budget does show the depth of the administration’s aims when it comes to slimming down the agency and makes it clear that serious cuts will almost assuredly be coming.

What it all means for recycling is unclear, but a review of the EPA’s current touch points with U.S. materials recovery shows some of the areas where impacts could be felt.

For full article, click here.

*Posted on March 21, 2017 by Colin Staub & Dan Leif