Recently, the USDA banned all landfill mined cardboard and plastics recycling from outside the US, except from Canada, http://www.resource-recycling.com/node/658. Complete details on the ban can be found at http://cfr.vlex.com/vid/330-400-regulation-certain-garbage-19904640. The primary concern is potential contamination of the US food supply as this material is transported through the US to recycling processing centers. This ban was enacted October 2010 following the discovery of bacteria and insect-infested meat in a shipment of plastic scrap entering the U.S. from Mexico. Recently, the strict enforcement has created significant hardship to US processors.
While we don’t defend bringing potential contaminants into the US food supply, the ban needs to be structured differently to not halt commerce in this vital industry. The new regulations, when enforced strictly, have added significant cost to bringing in the materials, with no significant benefit to the health and safety of the American food supply. As a result, the materials are being sold by foreign suppliers to other countries with less stringent regulations, thereby causing a loss of jobs to American processors, because the American processors cannot get adequate supply within the US at competitive pricing.
These new regulations need to be moderated to fit the circumstances appropriately. In particular, as long as the materials have not been co-mingled with other potentially contaminated sources (per the ban) and are coming from documented and confirmed reliable sources, the rigidity required by the new ban is not necessary. These confirmed sources have always cleaned their product properly before shipping from their facilities.
Since the ban was enacted, it has been adjusted slightly for Canadian imports, as these sources have proven sanitized results. But we need to have this interpretation carried across to other NAFTA suppliers to the US, who have proven the same stringent standards on sanitized products.
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Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.