Louisiana has become the most recent state to adopt a resolution recognizing and commending the recycling industry and its workers, joining Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, and Arizona. Though the process differs from state to state, like the others, Louisiana’s resolution recognizes the essential nature of recyclers and the industry.
ISRI’s Louisiana members, led by Chip DeJean, general manager of Louisiana Scrap Metal Recycling, brought the resolution to state Sen. Franklin Foil’s attention. A friend of the recycling industry, Foil was happy to sponsor the resolution and introduce it to the state legislature, DeJean says. Signed May 26 by state Senate President Page Cortez, the resolution commends the Louisiana Recyclers Association, as well as ISRI and its members for “their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Louisiana resolution joins its predecessors in commending the essential role of recycled commodities—including steel, paper, electronics, aluminum, plastics, textiles, tires, and glass—in supplying manufacturers during the pandemic and in their use as feedstock for vital products like hospital gowns, toilet paper, and respirators. It also recognizes recyclers’ role in supplying used auto parts, allowing drivers to access affordable repairs and maintain reliable transportation.
The Louisiana Senate acknowledges the people within the recycling industry. During the pandemic, recyclers “adopted measures to protect the health of employees and customers alike.” The resolution recognizes recyclers for their efforts sustaining the manufacturing sector during COVID-19. “The vitality of the state’s manufacturing sector is a matter of tremendous importance, and the contributions of the recycling industry will remain crucial throughout the pandemic and in the years to come,” it states.
Thanks to lobbying efforts over the last 10 years, DeJean says more Louisiana lawmakers are recognizing the important role the recycling industry plays in supporting manufacturing. “Hopefully [legislators] look at us as an essential partner,” he says. “We want to be a partner industry that provides a safe and needed service.”
Recyclers across the country continue working with their elected representatives to help them appreciate the recycling industry and its workers. “We had a lot of heroes this past year, who worked tirelessly—pretty much unnoticed—to keep our economy up and functioning,” says Kentucky state Sen. Stephen Meredith, who introduced Kentucky Senate Resolution 26. State Rep. Nancy Tate, who introduced a similar resolution in the Kentucky House, agrees. “We stand by this vitally important group of workers and the industry as a whole,” she says.
Passed in March, the Kentucky Senate resolution recognizes the metals-recycling industry and its critical role in the state’s economy. “Kentucky’s elected officials fully understand the connection between metals recycling and manufacturing,” says Neal Coulardot, ISRI’s Ohio Valley Chapter’s Kentucky legislative chair and president of the Kentucky Recycling Association.
Recognition by more and more states not only demonstrates recyclers’ contributions during COVID-19; it serves as a reminder that the industry will continue to remain essential in future emergencies. If there’s a new “national or global event, we will be asked and expected to keep vital infrastructure in our state and country operational, which means our businesses stay firm and our employees are secure in their jobs,” DeJean notes.