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More recycling?

The U.S. has achieved the 25% recycling rate goal established in 1989 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and now EPA officials want to raise the bar, suggesting a 35% recycling goal by 2005.

The agency is seeking comments on that goal. "Here at EPA, we feel that a 30- percent recycling goal is more realistic, but we are curious to hear what others have to say," said EPA spokesperson Lauren Michael. Michael said EPA continues to work with the business community to identify regulations that may actually discourage or conflict with recycling efforts so they can be changed. In proposing the higher rate, Elliott Laws, EPA's assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, said there should be expanded recovery of paper, glass, metal and plastic at multi-family dwellings, although categories likely to provide the greatest boost to recycling rates are durable goods, wood waste, yard trimmings and food waste. Rod Lowman, vice president of government affairs for the American Plastics Council, noted that several recent studies have indicated it will be very difficult to continue to maintain economically viable recycling programs much above the 25% to 35% rate. "They have to be realistic with the public," Lowman said. "If there is a desire to go as high as 35 percent, they should tell the public how much it will cost." Lowman said the recycling of plastic bottles is going very well and is "right on target." The infrastructure and technology is still developing for recycling of other plastics, he said. Comments on the 35% recycling goal should be submitted to Bob Dellinger, Acting Director, Office of Solid Waste, EPA, Mail Code 5306W, Washington, DC 20460.

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