June 7, 1999
Contact: Lance King
(703) 241-4927
America Recycles, Why Not Congress?
Groups Challenge Congress To Recycle

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Congress generates waste like a small city, with more than 20,000 employees, and almost none of it gets recycled. Environmental and recycling leaders meeting in San Francisco today announced a campaign challenging legislators to recycle.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the Legislative Appropriations bill, H.R. 1905, this week, which includes a requirement that its members and staff start recycling. However, the recycling language authored by Congressman Sam Farr (D - Carmel) could be removed on procedural grounds when the full House takes up the bill.

"Americans love recycling. More than 120 million Americans recycle everyday at home or work, making it the most popular way people express commitment to protect the environment on a daily basis," Lance King, campaign organizer for the GrassRoots Recycling Network said.

Leaders of the GrassRoots Recycling Network, Californians Against Waste and the California Resource Recovery Association announced a campaign called "Challenge Congress to Recycle." The announcement came at the annual meeting of the state recycling association, which brings together hundreds of recycling professionals and leaders from recycling businesses, nonprofit organizations, local and state government and universities.

"Challenging Congress to recycle is really asking legislators in Washington to follow the lead of the public, which has shown for the last ten years a deep and abiding commitment to recycling. Few activities in America unite us like recycling, which appeals to people of all political, social and economic backgrounds," King said. GRRN is a national nonprofit organization linking hundreds of local organizations and activist leaders together to advocate for "zero waste" policies and practices. It is headquartered in Athens, Georgia.

The California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) annual members meeting yesterday, June 6, approved a motion to support the recycling language in H.R. 1905 and join the GrassRoots Recycling Network in pressing Congress to recycle.

"The public supports recycling and expects to recycle in their place of business and in their community. They have every right to expect their elected representatives in Congress to do the same," CRRA President Liz Citrino said at the associationís meeting today.

"While no one in Congress is saying they oppose recycling as far as we know, members of the House and Senate may be the last bastion of waste in America," Californians Against Waste Policy Director Rick Best said. CAW is the largest nonprofit recycling advocacy organization in the nation, with more than 20,000 members statewide. Best is also chair of the GRRN Board of Directors.

The Associated Press reported in April 1999 that Congress is failing to recycle, which prompted Congressman Sam Farr (D - Carmel) to launch a campaign to end the wasteful ways of the nation's legislative leaders. In late May, the House Appropriations Committee adopted Farr's amendment to require the U.S. House of Representatives to recycle. Funds raised from marketing recycled paper, bottles and cans would be used to support Day Care in Congress.

"Congressman Farr's proposal makes good sense, but the House may strip the recycling provisions from the Legislative Appropriations Bill on a procedural 'point of order' sources tell us," King said.

Before the House begins debate on H.R. 1905, it must adopt the "rule" under which debate takes place and amendments are considered. However, using an obscure procedure called a 'point of order', the recycling language could be stripped from the bill as "non-germane".

"Ordinary citizens find the procedures in Congress difficult to understand. Why should Congress attach provisions to the emergency funding for Kosovo weakening environmental laws, provisions which are clearly non-germane, and then hide behind procedure to kill recycling requirements," King asks.

So far no one in the House has stepped forward to say why they would oppose recycling in Congress. In order to save the recycling provisions, Congressman Farr and a bi-partisan groups of colleagues plan to call for a recorded vote on the "point of order".

To learn more about the GrassRoots Recycling Network, check the organization's internet web-site at:


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