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In the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify products made with recycled waste materials or solid waste by-products and to develop guidance for purchasing these products. The act also requires procuring agencies to establish programs for purchasing these products. Procuring agencies, which can include contractors and state and local government grantees, are exempt from this requirement only under certain conditions and must document their reasons for not purchasing recycled-content products. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is responsible for coordinating the act's requirements with other federal procurement policies, and for reporting to Congress every 2 years on federal agencies' progress in implementing these requirements. Twenty-five years after passage of the act, the success of this effort is largely uncertain. EPA accelerated its designation of recycled-content products in the 1990s. However, procuring agencies acknowledge that EPA's designation of recycled-content products, by itself, cannot ensure that the products are purchased, and efforts to promote awareness have been limited.

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