NCSL Public-Private Partnership on Recycling


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The NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures is undertaking an exciting new venture focused on recycling in the United States.

It will follow the life cycle of products and explore policy initiative and innovative strategies to address the challenges brought about by shifting economic conditions, trade policies and consumer behavior. The partnership will provide legislatures, legislative staff and private sector partners a space to share information on industry issues and approaches, and work towards expanding expertise surrounding the recycling industry and developing best practices for states to consider.

Reduce what you use, reuse what you can, recycle everything else. Many of us are familiar with the three Rs of waste management. The first two tenets are relatively straightforward, but the last involves far more than tossing items into the blue bin. As such, the conversation surrounding the three Rs of waste management has transformed significantly within the last decade, with both policymakers and influencers working to adapt to the ever-evolving market.

Not only does recycling reduce the amount of waste headed to landfills, it also conserves natural resources, saves energy and creates jobs. In addition to the environmental benefits, recycling plays a critical role in supplying raw materials for manufacturing new products, and is essential to the manufacturing industry and state economies.

Though many aspects of the recycling industry are and will remain strong, it is not without challenges. From China’s import ban on solid waste to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the U.S. recycling industry is facing major aftershocks which have been felt by consumers, manufacturers and materials recovery facilities.

Changing international policies have limited the export of recyclables and left domestic markets struggling to keep up. Contamination in the recycling stream and dated infrastructure also affect operations, as well as products and packaging that were not designed for recycling. Finally, consumer confusion and a growing lack of confidence in the system are also major issues.

Given the absence of a federal recycling law, state and local governments are responsible for their own requirements and have taken various actions to address the innumerable nuances of recycling in their own communities.

States are gathering data, making investments in infrastructure, rolling out new public education campaigns and establishing market development centers. Many have also taken steps to limit single-use plastics and reduce food waste in favor of a circular economy. At the same time, industry is looking to more sustainable materials and designing products for easier recycling Not only are we seeing action across the states and within industry, but Congress is also beginning to dip its toes into the recycling space, drafting legislation that could potentially have broad impact for all stakeholders.

Steering Committee Members


  • Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Virginia)
    • Member, Agriculture, Senate Conservation, Natural Resources Committee
    • Member, Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee
    • Member, Senate Local Government Committee
    • Member, Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee 

  • Rep. Lisa Cutter (D-Colorado)
    • Member, House Energy and Environment Committee
    • Member, House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee


  • Sen. Elaine Bowers (R-Kansas)
    • Chair, Senate Transparency and Ethics Committee
    • Vice Chair, Senate Local Government Committee
    • Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
    • Member, Senate Transportation Comittteee
    • Member, Senate Utilites Committee
  • Rep. Adam Bowling (R-Kentucky)
    • Vice Chair, State Government Committee
    • Member, Natural Resources and Energy Committee
    • Member, House Health & Family Services
  • Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Oregon)
    • Chair, Senate Education Committee 
    • Member, Senate Energy and Environment Committee 
    • Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
    • Member, Joint Legislative Policy and Research Committee 
    • Member, Ways & Means Education Subcommittee 
  • Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Maine)
    • Member, Joint Standing Committee on Energy Utilities & Technology
  • Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Maryland)
    • Chair, Joint Committee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology & Biotechnology
    • Co-Chair, Senate Protocol Committee
    • Member, Senate Education, Health & Envirnmental Affairs Committee
    • Member, Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee 
    • Member, Judicial Proceedings Committee 
  • Sen. Sine Kerr (R-Arizona)
    • Chair, Senate Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee
    • Chair, Senate Ethics Committee 
    • Member, Senate Appropriations Committee 
    • Member, Senate Transportation and Technology Committee
  • Rep. Nicole Lowen (D-Hawaii)
    • Member, Energy and Environmental Protection Committee
    • Member, House Agriculture Committee 
    • Member, House Judiciary and Hawaiin Affairs Committee 
  • Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-Connecticut)
    • Member, Environment Committee
    • Member, Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee
    • Member, House Energy and Technology Committee 
  • Rep. Ed Thompson (R-Texas)
    • Vice Chair, House Transportation Committee
    • Member, Appropriations Committee 
  • Rep. Carlton Wing (R-Arkansas)
    • Chairperson, House Managment Committee
    • Member, House Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee
    • Member, House Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee 

Legislative Staff Members

  • Christina Denney, New Jersey 
    • Assistant Research Analyst - Environment Section, Office of Legislative Services
  • David Hartman, Georgia
    • Budget and Policy Analyst, House Budget and Research Office
  • Benjamin Kranner, Wisconsin
    • Staff Analyst, Wisconsin Legislative Council

Private Partners





Olivia Barker

Senior Manager, Environmental Public Policy

American Chemistry Council 

Josh Young

Britt Carter

Senior Director, Government Affairs

Manager, State Affairs

Google Joseph Dooley State Policy Manager
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Danielle Waterfield Chief Policy Officer
International Paper  David Kluesner Director, State Government Relations


Taylor Lustig

Sr. Manager, Public Policy & Strategic Engagement

Waste Management 

Shannon Crawford

Policy Director


Meetings, Presentations and Reports