Paper is one of eight categories within the U.S. EPA’s federal procurement guidelines | Aleksei Lazukov/Shutterstock

The U.S. EPA asked for public feedback on a list of recycled-content products purchased by federal agencies. The request drew 114 responses from a range of recycling stakeholders. 

For the first time in 13 years, the U.S. EPA is going through the process of updating what it calls its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPGs), which push federal agencies toward buying 61 recycled-content products in eight categories: paper, vehicular, construction, transportation, park and recreation, landscaping, non-paper office and miscellaneous products. 

As part of the update, the EPA asked for public comments on the existing lists, seeking feedback on whether products should be added or deleted, recycled-content levels adjusted and more. In addition to the lists, the EPA produces advisory notices to help agencies go about buying specific products in those categories. EPA sought feedback on those advisory notices, too. 

A total of 114 comments were submitted before the July 6 deadline. Among the public entities submitting comments were representatives from Alameda County, Calif.; Baltimore County, Md; Chatham County, N.C.; King County, Wash.; the Missouri State Recycling Program; Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Santa Monica, Calif.; and the Washington State Department of Ecology. All of the comments are available online

A number of commenters noted the federal government’s purchasing power through the CPGs also helps state and local governments buy recycled products. 

For the past 15 years, the Missouri State Recycling Program has used the federal CPGs to encourage Missouri state agencies to buy recycled-content products, wrote Robert Didriksen, the state recycling coordinator. “For an agency with limited resources the CPG has been an invaluable resource that has greatly facilitated our ability to promote buying recycled through the years,” he wrote. 

Alameda County, Calif, which includes the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, relies on the CPG standards to buy products as diverse as file folders and plastic signs, wrote Karen Cook, sustainability project manager at the county. 

“Without EPA’s leadership in setting standards for recycled content, we would not be able to set standards across a broad range of products, because we would not have the time or expertise to engage the marketplace to identify reasonable stretch goals for driving the market forward in their use of recycled content source materials,” she wrote.

A number of prominent nationwide recycling industry groups also weighed in, including the  Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), US Composting Council and others. Some major corporations, including Waste Management (WM), also submitted comments. 

According to the EPA’s request for comments, before finalizing any changes to the CPGs, the agency will issue a public notice and solicit another round of comments. 

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