The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) proclaimed Sunday, March 18 the first Global Recycling Day. Based on the worldwide response, the organization was successful in calling attention to the issues facing the recycling industry and highlighting the importance of what it calls "the seventh resource."
BIR says recycling has to be a global process, with robust public education, industry cooperation and, notably, calls for international free trade of recycled material as a commodity. The organization also calls for more responsible production, and encourages manufacturers to "design for recycling."
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) got involved, drawing attention to how robust recycling infrastructure can boost international development goals. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) called the day an opportunity to "increase recycling worldwide."
Of course, given the current global political climate, some of these goals will be easier to achieve than others. Education campaigns have proven successful around the United States, for example, and the Closed Loop Fund is looking to expand internationally, to continue to boost recycling and other circular economy ideas around the world.
In social media posts calling attention to the observance, participants largely focused on the benefits of recycling in two realms: Reducing carbon emissions and reducing the need for extracting virgin material. However, while BIR calls for the free, global trade of recycled commodities in its goals for Global Recycling Day, that particular issue got less attention over the weekend.
Which makes sense, as global trade is a difficult issue, especially now. China's import policies have already proven a headache for the U.S. industry, and the trade barriers raise questions of where that material will head now, and what will become of it. Recyclers in other parts of the world have not been spared, and Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada are all feeling the effects just the same, if not more than, the 50 states.
While the fate of global recycling may be unclear, one thing is certain: The people who care about recycling, and those in the industry, are going to continue to draw attention to the issue and advocate for better recycling infrastructure and government support.
Below is a round-up of how some organizations, companies and other groups, including U.S. Senators, observed the inaugural Global Recycling Day.
Thank you to Senate Recycling Caucus Co-Chairs @SenatorCarper and @JohnBoozman for showing your support and joining in the celebration of the first-ever #GlobaRecyclingDay ! pic.twitter.com/lNwJG5RaOx— ISRI (@ISRI) March 15, 2018
On the first #GlobalRecyclingDay, President of the Bureau of International Recycling @RanjitBaxi talks about the importance of this Conservative Government's focus on reducing harmful single-use plastics & environmental policies as an example for other countries to follow ♻???? pic.twitter.com/TVChKTEuiv— CCHQ Press Office (@CCHQPress) March 18, 2018