Over 40 Democratic lawmakers have urged the federal government to take measures to address the recycling crisis facing the country after China banned the importation of various unsorted plastics and mixed papers.
California congressman Mark Takano called attention to the consequences that the United States suffers after China approved in 2018 this measure that prevents the importation of these materials for recycling.
In separate letters, Takano and a group of more than 40 legislators urged the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to prevent the huge amounts of plastic that the country now has to manage to end up in the sanitary landfills, contaminating them.
Lawmakers asked DOC and EPA to submit a report to Congress on current efforts to address this crisis, and how consumers and cities will be helped to find a way to handle plastic waste.
“We need a comprehensive solution that focuses on specific investments in local recycling programs to improve infrastructure, and that promotes new technologies to classify, reuse, and turn waste into valuable assets,” warns the letter sent to the government.
Takano stresses that for more than three decades, the United States and many other countries, trusted that China accept most of the country’s recyclable materials, which caused the national recycling industry to weaken.
An analysis of Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm, found that in 2017 the United States had sent more than 70% of its plastic waste to China and Hong Kong.
China was accepting almost two thirds of all the plastic waste produced in the world, a situation that changed in 2018, and currently the Asian country only receives 1%.
“The United States has the opportunity to create a competitive and profitable recycling industry for the country,” Takano said.
The call of the legislators comes two weeks after Trump gave a speech aimed at claiming the alleged international “leadership” of the country in the protection of the environment.
“From the beginning, I have given clear instructions to my team (…) We want the cleanest air, we want crystal clear water, and that is what we are doing,” Trump said in the speech.