USA and resource efficiency

The political climate in the USA over the past couple of years has many people wondering if the country has completely abandonned its environmental and sustainability policies. There is, however, a lot of activity at the state level and by individual companies.

Much of the reports from the USA over the past two years have been about President Trump making an abrupt about face on multiple policies that were in place during his predecessor President Obama’s term. The environment is a prime example, with the appointment of a number of individuals with little or no environmental policy experience. Sometimes, as is the case with the EPA’s new Director General Scott Pruitt, the new appointees are even self-proclaimed climate deniers.

Many important initiatives in the USA do not, however, come from the federal level. There is plenty of activity at the state level. Today 28 out of 50 states already have climate action plans in place. Individual states can also make their own climate and resource laws. Today Seattle, for example, has laws requiring recycling of all household waste wherever possible.

Even more important are the efforts being made in the US private sector. Now many initiatives around the country to address issues such as resource efficiency are beginning to be taken seriously. Kroger which is one of the USA’s largest grocery retail chains has, for example, announced that it will phase out plastic bag use in its stores between now and 2025.

Other incentives for change are coming from elsewhere in the world. China’s recent decision to stop importing plastic waste has resulted in an accumulation of this type of waste in US ports. This means that the states now have to actively find ways of handling it themselves. The USA is unfortunately lagging way behind in this area, with a large percentage of its waste still ending up in garbage dumps or landfill.