Senate asks RIRRC, DEM to study recycling,
bottle redemption programs


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller asking the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation and the Department of Environmental Management to study ways to expand the market for recycled materials, and possibly support implementation of a bottle redemption program in Rhode Island.

The Senate resolution (2022-S 2582A) recognizes the dangers pollution poses to the ocean and its wildlife, and the reality that in order for recycling to be recycled rather than landfilled, there must be a market for the resulting material.

Much of the recycling in the United States used to be sent to China. But China announced in 2018 it would no longer accept foreign waste for recycling, leaving many countries without an outlet for recycled material.

“When there’s no market for recycled material, it doesn’t get recycled. We need to focus on where there are markets, how to strengthen them and create more, and what we can do right here in Rhode Island,” said Senator Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence). “We can’t just accept the situation and dump recycling in the landfill, which is nearing its capacity. We need to take action to encourage industry to find applications for it.”

The legislation seeks a comprehensive study, with a report by Jan. 10, 2023, of how much of Rhode Island’s waste is recyclable; where recyclable plastics, glass, fibers, metals and aluminum collected in Rhode Island goes; what markets currently exist in the state, the nation and internationally; how to develop and expand such markets; incentives for and costs of in-state recycling; what other states are doing to reduce consumption, and how other state’s bottle redemption programs work.

The resolution also asks for a detailed plan on what would be necessary to create a bottle redemption program in Rhode Island within two years.