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Blog January 2022

How the new US National Recycling Strategy will deliver opportunities for the emerging circular economy

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Conor Dowd Product Marketing Manager

How the new US National Recycling Strategy will deliver opportunities for the emerging circular economy

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the 2021 National Recycling Strategy and it is a gamechanger for the US waste industry as part of the circular economy.

According to EPA, the strategy will create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective municipal solid waste recycling system.

It said that the strategy is in response to the US recycling system facing many challenges including reduced markets for recycled materials, recycling infrastructure that has not kept pace with a diverse and changing waste stream, confusion about what materials can be recycled, and varying methodologies to measure recycling performance.

The five key objectives of the 2021 National Recycling Strategy are:

  1. Improve markets for recycled commodities through market development, analysis, manufacturing, and research.
  2. Increase collection of recyclable materials and improve recycling infrastructure through analysis, funding, product design, and processing efficiencies.
  3. Reduce contamination in the recycled materials stream through outreach and education to the public on the value of proper recycling.
  4. Enhance policies and programs to support recyclability and recycling through strengthened federal and international coordination, analysis, research on product pricing, and sharing of best practices.
  5. Standardize measurement and increase data collection through coordinated recycling definitions, measures, targets, and performance indicators.

Waste management companies will need to use an Enterprise Resource Planning system such as the AMCS Platform to help meet these objectives. Our modules include data analytics, grading, and quality evaluation, demand planning for materials, and intelligent route optimization.

Crucially, and this is where the strategy is a gamechanger, the EPA has committed to managing materials for a circular economy.

According to EPA: “Over the next few years, EPA will move forward to support a circular economy approach to materials management, which represents an important change in how the nation currently mines resources, makes them into products, and then disposes of them.

“A circular economy approach reduces material use, redesigns materials and products to be less resource-intensive, and recaptures ‘waste’ as a resource to manufacture new materials and products.”

While other countries such as those in the EU, UK, China, Vietnam, and others have said they will build a circular economy, this is the first time that the US Federal Government has said it will develop it. Effectively, it means a global circular economy becomes a reality.

For recycling and waste management companies in the US, this represents an opportunity to present themselves as circular economy businesses, as many have done in Europe.

This shows they are an integral part of the manufacturing supply chain, working with customers to collect and process a commodity that will be re-manufactured into new products.

While this already happens in the US of course, the development of the circular economy brings opportunities to expand their businesses rapidly.

AMCS is already working with our clients around the world that are transitioning their operations to a circular economy from a linear one – including some US recycling and waste businesses.

We are ready to share our expertise with our US customers and assist them to identify and optimize the opportunities available from a circular economy.  To learn more about our recycling solutions please click here.

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