National Recycling Day

Dear Friend,

Today I spoke on the House floor to recognize National Recycling Day. As we come to understand the ramifications of climate change, we must also consider the impacts of plastics pollution on our environment.

Half of all plastic made since 1950 was made in the past 13 years, and we are on course to generate over 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste by 2050. Put differently, we will have generated more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.

Fortunately, there are measurable changes we can all make to help address this problem. Last week, I visited JMK Fibers (pictured below with Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus), a single stream material recovery facility (MRF) that receives recyclables collected from King and Pierce Counties. This facility deploys optical scanners, paper screens, magnets, and plastic sorters to help their employees process recyclables and reduce landfill waste. Once sorted, these materials are packaged in bales and sold to manufacturers in order to make new products.

ImageImageBut there’s more to being a thoughtful consumer than just recycling. Years ago, I worked at the EPA, and recycling was the third priority. First was reducing. Second was reusing. And we all need to walk the walk right now. That is why I sent a letter today to Chairwoman Lofgren of the House Administration Committee to request the House of Representatives eliminate all plastic cutlery. Plastic utensils pose a unique problem to our waste management systems and our environment. Most are not recycled, due to the inconsistency in plastic types and sorting challenges. Given that more than 100 million plastic eating utensils are used daily across the country, the threat posed by plastic utensil pollution is immense.

This is one small action I am taking today and it is just the beginning. In the coming months, I will be reaching out to my colleagues on Capitol Hill to ask that they personally take steps to minimize their plastic footprint and use their voice to increase awareness on this issue. We will lead by example.

I hope you will partner with me by talking with your family and engaging others in your community on the importance of reducing our use of plastics, reusing when we can, and recycling when we can’t. The next time you order take-out or delivery, ask them not to include single use utensils. Heck, carry a spork! Bring your own mug to your favorite coffee house. Carry a reusable water bottle. Avoid plastic bags altogether, but if you do use them, save them and return them to your local grocer – single-use grocery bags are not recyclable and will actually make it more difficult for a facility to recycle other materials.

If you would like to learn more about how to effectively recycle I encourage you to visit

It is an honor to serve as your Representative and I hope you have found this update helpful. If you don’t already, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more regular updates from Washington DC and the 8th district.

Kim Schrier, M.D.
Member of Congress

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