ISRI’s 2021 advocacy agenda, which was approved by the Board of Directors the final week of January, focuses on four broad policy actions: recognizing recyclables as an essential feedstock, distinguished from waste; increasing market access and industry growth by promoting investment and innovation; supporting policy that upholds healthy end markets; and recycling responsibly through full compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations.

The advocacy priorities “elevate the necessity of recycling to achieve a circular economy, meet sustainability goals, and address climate challenges while also leading to opportunities for unprecedented economic growth in the United States and around the world,” said Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy, in a release.

ISRI’s 2021 advocacy agenda maintains several of the same priorities from the 2020 agenda, including recognizing that scrap is not waste, advocating for manufacturing sales tax exemptions for recyclers, advocating for the enforcement of existing trade laws, advocating for the restoration of recycling industry oversight by the Surface Transportation Board, and advocating for the recyclability of and use of recycled content in manufactured products.

However, like every industry, ISRI devoted major advocacy efforts in 2020 to managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included advocating for an essential business designation for recyclers nationwide and for financial support programs to help recyclers deal with the economic downturn.

This year’s agenda also prioritizes recycling as essential to the U.S. and global manufacturing supply chain, and it builds on certain other policy concerns from 2020. Last year, ISRI wanted to end uncertainty over the use of recycled crumb rubber in artificial turf, an issue of importance to scrap rubber and tire members. In 2021, ISRI’s advocacy team went a step further, hoping to “secure authoritative declarations by federal and state agencies that use of recycled crumb rubber in artificial turf is appropriate.”

The 2021 agenda includes a strategy of community outreach and environmentally responsible recycling as a method to manage environmental justice concerns, which were not explicitly mentioned in the 2020 agenda. It also advocates for increased government purchasing of recyclable materials through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. These policy priorities will likely be more relevant under the new Biden Administration.

The advocacy agenda is a “living document” that ISRI updates as needed. In July 2020, for example, ISRI’s board approved updates to the agenda that reflected policy priorities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.