Video: Rep. Stevens Convenes Subcommittee Hearing to Examine Recycling Technologies

April 30, 2019
Press Release
Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock traveled to Washington to testify and speak to the recycling challenges faced by communities in Michigan’s 11th District and around the country

WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11) convened a hearing as Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Research & Technology. The hearing, called Closing the Loop: Emerging Technologies in Plastics Recycling, examined emerging recycling technologies and the technology gaps that prevent more of our plastics from being recycled. Today’s hearing was the first Science Committee hearing about recycling in a decade. Click here to watch the full hearing on YouTube.


Today’s hearing comes as municipalities in Southeast Michigan struggle to maintain their recycling programs after China banned imports of most plastic recyclable materials. This issue was brought to Congresswoman Stevens’ attention during a recent meeting with the Conference of Western Wayne, an organization of 18 communities in western Wayne County that created a Task Force to discuss potential solutions to the recycling crisis. In response to their concerns, Congresswoman Stevens initiated today’s hearing and invited the City Manager of Plymouth, Michigan, to testify.


Last week, Downtown Publications reported that GFL Environmental Inc., a waste hauler that provides curbside recycling services in Southeast Michigan, sent letters to several dozen communities in Michigan’s 11th District to outline the situation and propose a fee increase. At least one city in Wayne County is now hauling recyclable materials to a landfill, and other communities in Michigan’s 11th District are worried about having to make similarly tough decisions.

“One of the things I’ve heard about from local leaders in my district is the challenge they’re facing to maintain their recycling programs,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “As waste management companies are no longer able to sell recyclables to China, they are driving up their domestic pricing to recoup costs – costs that fall squarely on our municipalities. In many cases, U.S. cities are being forced to cut longstanding recycling programs and are instead incinerating recyclables or leaving them in landfills, releasing dangerous emissions. Americans who are trying to do the right thing for our environment are left unaware that their efforts are for naught.”

Click HERE to read Congresswoman Stevens’ opening statement in full.


“Municipalities must also provide on-going education for residents to stay informed and to help insure a ‘quality’ recyclable item enters the recycle stream,” said Mr. Paul Sincock, City Manager, City of Plymouth, Michigan. “At a minimum, it must be just as easy to recycle something as it is to throw it out in the trash.”


"An increase in recycling will increase the tax base, lower energy costs and decrease dependence on foreign sources for oil, manufacturing and consumer goods,” said Dr. Govind K. Menon, Director, School of Science and Technology, Troy University.


"Dedicated investment that harnesses the innovation of the United States research community needs to be applied to dealing with today’s plastics through both the development of chemical recycling & re-engineering tomorrow’s plastics to be recyclable-by-design,” said Dr. Gregg Beckham, Senior Research Fellow, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


“Innovation in advanced recycling is important to the US manufacturing sector, and has the potential to positively address many of the challenges facing this country including maintaining technology leadership and promoting global competitiveness,” said Mr. Tim Boven, Recycling Commercial Director, Packaging & Specialty Plastics, Dow.


Click HERE to watch the full hearing on YouTube.