Regulatory policy

Environmental voice guides recycling labeling policy

Oregon’s Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act was signed into law in August 2021, creating a 12-person task force to research and assess recyclability claims. | Yanqiang Dai/Shutterstock

For several years, lawmakers across the United States have been crafting policy to address concerns about plastic in the oceans. In Oregon, a key recycling labeling task force elected a representative from an ocean environmental group as vice-chair.

Resource Recycling spoke with Anja Brandon, U.S. plastics policy analyst from the Ocean Conservancy, to get her thoughts on joining the new Oregon Truth in Labeling Task Force, a group with a unique regulatory role.

Brandon said that when the opportunity to be part of the task force came up, she “just jumped on it.”

“This is the perfect opportunity to really develop some of the best practices around recyclability and labeling, an issue that we absolutely face at the federal level,” she said. “It seemed like a great opportunity to help ensure an evidence-based approach using science and analysis.”

Brandon has a doctorate. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Stanford University, where she studied plastic waste management and developed new methods for breaking down common plastics. At the Ocean Conservancy, she works on plastic policy solutions at the state and federal levels. She was previously AGU/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

She said the fellowship allowed her to “dive deep into the issue from a policy perspective” and that she “fell in love with combining science and politics for a strong evidence-based movement. “.

The 12-person task force is part of Oregon’s Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act, which was signed into law in August 2021. The role of the task force is to research and assess misleading or confusing claims regarding the recyclability. It includes members of the Legislative Assembly, local governments, producers and the recycling industry, including grocery chain New Seasons, carrier and operator MRF Recology, The Recycling Partnership, AMERIPEN and l Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association.

Brandon is the only member of the task force representing an environmental advocacy group. She said she was delighted that the task force chose her to be vice-chair and “that environmental advocacy is elevated within the task force.”