On April 9th, Recycling Reinvented Executive Director Paul Gardner spoke to several legislators and lobbyists on EPR/market-based recycling in Raleigh. The legislature’s bicameral Environmental Review Commission set up a working group to hear about opportunities and challenges for increased recycling in North Carolina. The co-chairs, Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie County) and Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville), convened an afternoon meeting that included several presentations and a roundtable discussion.
Scott Mouw of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) presented on the current state of recycling in North Carolina. The state includes many manufacturers who employ thousands of workers and use recycled materials as a feedstock, and many of those manufacturers are looking for additional material.
The state has also seen improvements in recycling through more hub-and-spoke systems to serve rural areas, as well as by disposal bans for certain beverage containers, including at businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. However, recycling rates have flattened out, and the state’s manufacturers still must import a considerable amount of material from outside the state.
Paul Gardner spoke about Recycling Reinvented’s recent cost-benefit analysis on EPR/market-based recycling in Minnesota, and compared Minnesota and North Carolina’s recycling rates, recycling infrastructure, demography, and solid waste tax system. Gardner stated that Minnesota has a high recycling rate already, which means that the study was likely to show more conservative gains for recycling compared to North Carolina.
Elizabeth Biser of Brooks Pierce, representing Nestlé Waters North America, spoke about House Bill 949 that was introduced during the 2013 session. There are no plans to move HB949 in 2014, but it serves as a focal point for discussions with stakeholders leading up to the 2015-2016 legislative session.
The roundtable discussion included participation by local representatives of waste haulers, local government, retailers, the North Carolina Chamber, and the glass industry. Participants asked questions about current recycling practices vs. what would be proposed in HB949.