Government “Flow Control” of Trash and Recyclables

Recycled paper is a raw material that shouldn’t be under government control.

The Issue

Some local governments are trying to control where recycled materials go after they are collected, thus restricting access to the material. These policies are often referred to as “flow control.”

Our Position

Governments should not limit the recycling industry’s access to recovered materials by regulation.

Our Approach

The recycled paper manufacturing industry historically relied on a network of private brokers, nonprofit organizations, and commercial establishments for its supply of recovered paper. Over the last twenty years, local governments have also entered the marketplace by operating curbside recycling programs.

Local governments, often driven to meet state diversion or recycling goals, have begun to use their regulatory powers to restrict private industry access to recovered materials. We believe that businesses and individuals should not be required to turn their recyclable materials over to the government, but should instead have the right to sell or donate their recyclable materials to brokers, nonprofit organizations, or others who for years have specialized in recyclable commodities. Local governments must recognize that recovered paper is a manufacturing raw material and is not part of the solid waste stream subject to government control.