In this recently reported study, EREF reports that there are multiple definitions to recycling around the country. In some states composting counts towards recycling, in others it does not. In some states recyclable materials are included in the definition of solid waste, in others they are not. Thankfully, in New Jersey, recyclable materials are not defined as solid waste.
Defining recyclables as a part of the solid waste stream sends exactly the wrong message. Recyclables are commodities. They are raw materials that have a value both economically and environmentally. If thought of as solid waste, they will be treated as solid waste.
To further complicate the matter, in some states energy recovery is a form of recycling, and in others it is not. If you are a part of a large multi-state corporation with a zero-waste goal, what do you do in those states that don’t count energy recovery as recycling?
There is a good argument that we should create a national definition for recycling…..but I wouldn’t hold my breath for this to happen.
We should at least agree that recyclables are NOT SOLID WASTE.
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EREF Releases Analysis of State Recycling Definitions