METALS FORUM When it comes to recycling, Uncle Sam is above it all

Sep 01, 2007 | 11:18 AM |

George Vary is executive director of the American Zinc Association.
George Vary is executive director of the American Zinc Association.
For decades, Americans have overwhelmingly supported recycling, realizing that conservation of resources by making new products from ones that have reached the end of their current service lives makes good environmental—and economic—sense.

In the steel industry—and steel is the largest-volume recycled product by far—more than 75 million tons of steel were recycled last year in the United States alone, making new products that are just as good as the old ones. Steel from old buildings and appliances is routinely transformed into tomorrow's new bridges and automobiles.

To encourage recycling, Section 6002 of the landmark Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was intended to expand markets for products with recovered content by using the purchasing power of the federal government to support those markets. Unfortunately, RCRA is being ignored by the government. Worse, the government seems not to care that this is the case.

As succinctly explained by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "In Section 6002 of the RCRA, Congress established a program to promote recycling by increasing (government) purchases of products containing recovered materials. Section 6002 requires EPA to designate products that may be produced with recovered materials and to recommend practices for buying these products containing recovered materials. Once a product is designated, federal, state and local agencies and their contractors that use appropriated federal funds to purchase the items must purchase them with the highest recovered materials content practicable." (60 Federal Register 48714, Sept. 20, 1995).....

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