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June 18, 2020

Inhofe Questions Witnesses At EPW Hearing On Challenges Facing Recycling In The U.S.

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) senior member of the Environmental and Public Works (EPW) Committee, questioned witnesses at an EPW hearing entitled: Responding to the Challenges Facing Recycling in the U.S. 

Witnesses included: Meghan Stasz Vice President of Packaging and Sustainability, Consumer Brands Association and Bridget Croke, Managing Director, Closed Loop Partners. 

Inhofe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.   I'm going to ask questions of two of the witnesses and I'll start with Ms. Stasz. Then I have a second question for you (Ms. Croke). If there is time after, I will go to the second witness.   We're talking about, and it has been introduced, a bill that would put in place a ban of many single-use plastics. I would ask you, Ms. Stasz, what are some of the unintended economic or environmental impacts of the alternatives that have been named. I'd like to know some of the problems that may be there for those alternatives.  

Ms. Stasz: Thank you for that question Senator.   As we said, packaging has this really critical job to play—it protects the safety and quality of the product. As we just mentioned, the COVID pandemic laid bare the need for a range of packaging, including single-use plastic packaging. What we need to make sure is that we have all options on the table when it comes to packaging types. Because there is a range of consumers, in terms of the packaging that they need for their use, and there is a range of products that need different packaging. We have entire teams of PhD packaging engineers who are spending their careers making sure that the packaging that's used for a product is the best one possible to do its job, to get the product to consumers safely, intact and with minimal environmental footprint. What we don't want to do is take arrows out of the quiver, right. We want to make sure that we have all of those options on the table but a system that can actually process them. Because forcing switches in packaging material, if they don’t have a full life cycle analysis in mind, can cause those unintended consequences. Potentially more greenhouse gas emissions, or they might be fragile and break and you lose the product and you waste food, etcetera. We want to think about the role that packaging has to play. I think we want to have a recycling system that will accept, use and keep that packaging in play—keeping it out of landfills and absolutely keeping it out of the environment.  

Inhofe: Yes, that's good. I appreciate that.

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