Individuals, Businesses and Organizations
Letter to support recycled paper purchasing by the U.S. government
The deadline to sign the letter has passed,
but you can still comment directly to EPA here, before July 6.
Buying recycled products is crucial to closing the loop and reducing the impacts from the extraction of virgin materials. Right now the U.S EPA is asking for public input on it’s “buy-recycled” program. Add your name to support recycled paper products below.
The U.S. government’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPGs), which set minimum recycled content levels for federal purchases on a range of products, have been a successful policy to promote the use of materials recovered from the municipal solid waste stream. Through its impact as the nation’s largest institutional purchaser, the Guidelines have stimulated economic development, helped address the nation’s waste management challenges, and provided numerous other environmental benefits. As the EPA recently said, “Buying recycled-content products fosters markets for materials from the recycling stream and ensures that these materials will be used in the manufacture of new products, strengthening the United States’ recycling system.” (EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management Assistant Administrator Peter Wright)
For the first time since 2007, the EPA is requesting comments on the CPGs, including if the right items are currently designated and if any should be deleted, added, or modified from the list. Now is a critical time to speak up in support of federal government leadership in purchasing recycled paper and paper products.
The Environmental Paper Network-North America has prepared the group comment letter below, and we are inviting all individuals and organizations to add their name and support to the letter, by June 30, 2020. For maximum impact and to provide more information, please submit an individual comment to the U.S. EPA, by following this link.
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We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, with Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2019-0589.
As climate change, species extinctions, toxins, illness, and economic hardship threaten communities in the United States and abroad, it is imperative that U.S. policy drive demand for recycled materials to create more sustainable supply chains. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), which were last updated in 2007, have been instrumental in growing the market for recycled materials across both the paper and plastics sectors. They have provided a counterweight to what the EPA itself has called an “overwhelming” bias of federal tax policies toward extractive industries and their beneficiaries compared to recycled markets.1
By requiring the federal government, which purchases $500 billion in goods and services each year, to follow minimum thresholds of recycled materials, the CPGs have helped to significantly increase paper recovery rates, strengthen community collection programs, and boost market innovation and job creation in the recycling sector. Additionally, a large multitude of state and local governments, businesses and organizations rely upon these purchasing standards in their own legislation and policies. This extensive impact has reduced landfill waste, as well as the pressure on climate-critical forests, toxins emissions, and other harmful environmental and human health impacts, and the program has fulfilled an EPA obligation under the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act.
Now, more than ever, we need the EPA to maintain and strengthen these standards as the markets evolve. This includes keeping meaningful post-consumer recycled content levels across each product category. The CPGs are much more than a list of products to purchase. They are a necessary mechanism of consistent national guidance that supports recycling infrastructure and creates jobs that are environmentally sustainable. The 1993 Procurement and Use of Recycled Products: a Primer for Government Officials from the EPA says that government agencies should buy and use recycled products for three reasons: environmental protection, resource conservation, and economic development. The challenges today of economic recovery, COVID-19, climate change, and recently disrupted recovered material markets make these reasons even more critical and relevant.
We urge the EPA to maintain and increase the standards in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines and to continue to strengthen this critical policy.