Every year in November, our nation renews its commitment to reduce waste and preserve our limited resources on “America Recycles Day.” The day of recognition serves as a timely reminder as we approach the holiday season—a period when used envelopes, wrapping paper, shipping material and gift boxes quickly pile up— that we all have a role to play in reducing our landfill input. 

Recycling is an easy way to do our part. It is a win-win solution, as it allows us to be responsible stewards of our environment while creating needed resources for U.S. manufacturers, valuable export commodities and jobs for over 500,000 Americans. Recycling truly does help build a stronger America.  

This is the message Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and I routinely share with our colleagues as the co-chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus. Through the caucus, we work with our colleagues and stakeholders to raise awareness of recycling’s impact on advancing our nation's environmental and economic interests and to support public policies that increase the practice across the country.

The caucus, which was formed in 2006, is committed to educating our colleagues on new and innovative ideas to make recycling practical for all stakeholders. With that in mind, we held a briefing on the eve of “America Recycles Day” to promote the benefits of recycling and help find ways we can work together to turn challenges into opportunities.

Zach Freeze, Senior Director for Sustainability at Walmart Stores Inc, was one of the expert panelists at this briefing. Given that the large majority of recycled material is generated outside of the household, it is vital that we encourage businesses, large and small, take a proactive, conscientious approach to sustainability.

Walmart’s innovative efforts to reduce waste in its operations and increase sustainability are ideas that can translate into bigger benefits for the industry. I appreciate that Zach made the time to share how Walmart is carrying out its vision by increasing focus on product sustainability efforts, more sustainable packaging solutions and it’s bold “Project Gigaton,” which seeks to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions produced by the company and its suppliers by one billion metric tons by the year 2030.

The Senate Recycling Caucus aims to raise the visibility of the importance of recycling from a conservation standpoint as well as the important role the industry plays in our economy. Events such as this are a good way for us to listen, learn and share ideas. We need to take the best of those ideas and turn them into action. 

Recycling is one of the few solutions to a problem that is truly bipartisan. Waste reduction is not a red state issue or a blue state issue. Nor is it a big city problem or a rural problem. We all can do our part, and share the benefits, by recycling.

With the holiday season upon us, I encourage everyone to make a concerted effort to recycle. When you recycle, you literally reinvest in American manufacturing, providing raw materials for America’s factories and economic opportunity for your community. Recycling doesn’t take much effort, but it makes all the sense in the world.