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Analysis of State Recycling Definitions: Environmental Research & Educational Foundation Report

December 30, 2019

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) identified and analyzed recycling definitions used by state agencies in an effort to document the various ways recycling may be defined. Definitions for “recycle”, “recycling”, and/or similar terms such as recyclables were identified through a search of state codes. Definitions were identified for 49 of 50 states. A definition was not found for North Dakota. Definitions were analyzed based on various components, including: What activities are considered to be part of recycling (e.g. collection, sorting, separating, processing, etc.),What are the end product(s) of recycling (e.g. raw material, product, commodity, substitute for commercial product),  the end uses considered as recycling (e.g. reuse, remanufacturing, composting, waste-to-energy), Are any special wastes specifically included in the definition (e.g. waste oil, household hazardous), andWhether recycling occurs to waste materials, or materials prior to becoming waste. State definitions of recycling were found vary widely, and based on EREF’s analysis there are at least 18 distinct ways that recycling is defined throughout the U.S. Activities…
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