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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Although I am sometimes led to believe that "Better Government is often less Government," I was pleased to read this item concerning our federal government in a recent Resource Recycling newsletter. It addressed the government using some of our taxpayer dollars to help the recycling efforts. In my opinion, a much better use than how some are used.

“Recycling issues have hit the national stage with unprecedented fervor in recent weeks," the article read. "Citing recycling market challenges and growing plastic pollution, lawmakers are advancing legislation and pressuring government agencies to take action.”

Not only was a waste reduction and recycling advancement bill introduced in Congress, but also a number of members of Congress recently asked federal agencies to get more involved in improving the country’s recycling system.

For example, they sent a letter to the Secretary of Commerce expressing that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act mandated that department “to encourage greater commercialization of proven recycling technology as well as stimulate the development of markets for recycled materials in the United States.”

They asked the department to report what actions it has taken to meet the recycling challenges plus how the department is helping in the trade of recycled commodities as part of its responsibilities. The group also sent a similar letter to the U.S. EPA Administrator.

In part, the letter to the EPA read, "despite the EPA’s work to make recycling in the U.S. a mainstay, the nation’s capacity to recycle goods at the local level is vastly inadequate.”

They asked the EPA not only how the EPA is supporting recycling technology advancement, but also what they were doing to help the Department of Commerce to create a better national recycling system.

I found it interesting that more than just a few signed the two letters. There were 45 lawmakers who signed the letter to the Department of Commerce and the EPA letter had 47 signatures.

As mentioned last week in our article, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., put forward the Zero Waste Act, which would create federal grants to help municipalities in their recycling and waste reduction efforts. The program, to be carried out by the U.S. EPA, would be funded with up to $250 million from 2020 through 2027.

As Omar explained, “Oftentimes we can propose lofty ideas, and if we’re not giving people the actual tools and the resources to implement them, then that just remains a lofty idea.”

I find this often all too true, not only with government ideas but what some of us think are common sense ideas. For example, “Why don’t car makers put a timed switch on turn signals, for the thoughtful drivers who use them, that shuts the blinker off after a period rather than having to follow a vehicle with them on for miles and miles?”

These efforts, on a national level concerning recycling challenges, come as there is more public awareness of waste and recycling issues, especially on the plastics front. As one university professor found through her research, it is estimated that about 91% of the waste from all plastic made has not been recycled. Thus a good reason for the national government to get more involved.

I hope that you are as pleased as I was to see that at least some of our hard-earned tax dollars are being used wisely to help reduce waste, keep our communities cleaner and save natural resources for future generations.

Till next week, do have a great one...


Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or email

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