NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What! We Congressfolk Recycle?

April 2, 1999

The latest proof that Congress often ignores the laws it imposes on the rest of the country concerns recycling. Congress just doesn't want to do it.

Even the House chairman who oversees environmental issues on public lands, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), has turned his back on the effort. His spokesman says Young's office separated trash for a while -- until they noticed that the cleaning personnel were dumping it all back into one bag.

  • A former House recycling coordinator once estimated that if just 60 percent of House offices sorted out high-grade white paper, the institution could earn itself $150,000 a year.
  • It earned only $25,000 for that recycling in fiscal 1998.
  • Herb Franklin, an administrative assistant in the Capitol architect's office -- which is in charge of recycling -- claims that staff turnover is too rapid for recycling and a representative's situation "is not to be compared with a private employer or the executive branch."
  • "The most stubborn bureaucracy in America is Congress itself," notes Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), a recycling supporter.

In a related development, the Associated Press reported last week that inspectors appointed to ensure that Congress obeys the same workplace safety rules as private corporations found numerous violations -- including unprotected workers digging through contaminated trash, high concentrations of Legionnaires' disease bacteria in one building and improper storage of flammable chemicals.

Source: Associated Press, "Lawmakers Continue to Ignore Recycling in Capitol Hill Offices," April 2, 1999.


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