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Import / Export of Waste and Recycling Materials

 

NWRA POSITION

NWRA supports the free movement of waste and recycling material across international borders. Free trade is dependent upon market forces and government should be a mechanism to help facilitate, not stifle, it.

 

BACKGROUND

Most people do not think about what happens to their waste and recycling materials after it is out of sight. For those who do give it a second thought, they likely think that it is disposed of or recycled locally. While that may be the case in some instances, these materials instead might make a journey of hundreds of miles to another state or even be exported thousands of miles overseas. Conversely, some materials are imported into the United States for a variety of reasons.

As is the case with any commodity, waste and recycling materials are only imported or exported if it makes economic sense for both parties involved. The point of origin or destination should not result in differential treatment by a governmental entity that places the materials at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, some have singled out the import of foreign materials for no other reason than that it originates from outside the United States.

These governmental attempts to restrict the import or export of waste and recycling materials interferes with the free market. Such artificial disruptions when not tied to a compelling economic or environmental rationale can lead to unintended consequences such as the misallocation of resources, lack of innovation, or an underutilization of capacity. That in turn can negatively impact workforce needs and suppress job growth.

 

TALKING POINTS

  • Waste and recycling materials are only imported or exported if it makes sense for both parties involved.
  • Materials should not be disadvantaged by government solely based upon the point of origin or destination.
  • Restrictions on the import or export of waste and recycling materials artificially disrupt the free market leading to a lack of innovation and stunted job creation.

 

Updated January 2019.