The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 2021 National Recycling Strategy on November 15, titled “Part One of a Series on Building a Circular Economy for All.” The National Recycling Strategy provides a framework for all stakeholders—including the fashion industry—to reduce the volume of materials used and recapture waste as a resource for new products.
The 2021 Strategy discusses five objectives to strengthen the U.S. recycling system, including: the collection and processing of recyclables; the reduction of contamination in the recycled materials stream and policies and programs to support circularity – while also addressing environmental justice and civil rights concerns. As brands and retailers make commitments and take action to save the planet, designers and other industry professionals must play a role in every part of the Recycling Strategy – particularly when handling the disposal of materials, ensuring safe waste management practices that do not disproportionately impact underrepresented and marginalized communities and returning materials to fashion’s supply chain.
The National Recycling Strategy also addresses the importance of research and partnerships with universities and industry to improve markets for recyclable materials and products. As I’ve previously highlighted in lectures and panel discussions, partnerships with academia will not only help to fuel innovation for students and the next generation of thought leaders, but it will also stimulate interdisciplinary learning and research melding fashion, law, STEM fields and other areas.
Read EPA’s full National Recycling Strategy here.