The US Senate unanimously passed two bills that would improve rural recycling and composting accessibility as well as data collection, sending the legislation to the House for a vote.
Recycling infrastructure legislation would establish a grant scheme to provide money for access and transportation of recovered materials. The liability bill would require a handful of new reports to assess processing capacity, end markets and more for recycling and composting.
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) supported passage of both bills and called on the House of Representatives to “move quickly to pass these bills.”
In February, NWRA President Ben Harvey testified in support of the bills, and the NWRA helped Senate staff draft them, the press release said.
The Plastics Industry Association also supported both bills, and Matt Seaholm, president and CEO, also testified on the bills. In a press release, he said “These two pieces of legislation highlight much-needed improvements to the recycling system in the United States.
“Better data and better infrastructure are key to implementing successful recycling,” he said. “More accurate data will tell us exactly where the gaps in the recycling system are, and improved infrastructure will help more efficient collection, sorting and recycling of all materials.”
The US Composting Council has also called for people to tell their representatives in the House “how important it is to pass this bill”.
Two similar bills were introduced in the House in June, HR 8183 and HR 8059, but did not leave the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. The NWRA has also submitted a letter in support of these bills.
Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act
The infrastructure bill would establish a pilot grant program to improve accessibility to recycling by providing grants on a competitive basis to underserved communities. The bill suggests the use of a hub-and-spoke model for the development of recycling infrastructure.
Priority would be given to projects in communities where there is no more than one MRF within a 75-mile radius, and funds could be used to increase the number of transfer stations, expand curbside collection, or use public-private partnerships to reduce costs in underserved communities.
Grants cannot be used for recycling education programs, the bill notes.
No total amount is provided for in the bill, but it specifies that the minimum grant amount is $500,000 and the maximum amount is $15 million. A grant cannot pay more than 90% of a project and the pilot project is expected to run from 2023 to 2027.
Two years after the first grant was awarded, the bill requests a report from Congress on the number of grants awarded, what was done with the grants, and how the grants improved recycling rates in the community.
The Recycling and Composting Responsibility Act
S.3743 calls for half a dozen reports on composting capacity, recycling capacity, end markets, how best to report data, and circular markets. Some of them would be annual and others ad hoc.
“Congress believes that recycling and composting conserves resources, protects the environment, and is important to the economy of the United States,” the bill says, adding that recycling and composting infrastructure face challenges. to challenges related to consumer confusion, shrinking export markets, limiting domestic markets. end markets, variable supply flows and aging or missing infrastructure.
The first report requested by the bill describes the ability of the United States to implement a national composting strategy, including what federal, state or local laws, if any, could be an obstacle, what programs and infrastructure exist currently and a study of the practices of manufacturers and companies that are moving towards compostable packaging and catering items.
The law also requires annual public reporting of recycling and composting rates reported by all federal agencies, the total annual percentage of products containing recyclable or compostable materials purchased by federal agencies, and recommendations for updating guidelines. federal procurement policies and the green procurement program.
If the bill passes the House, it will also implement a semi-annual inventory of public and private MRFs and a description of the materials each MRF can process, as well as establish a comprehensive baseline of recycling system data. .
This baseline will include: the number of community curbside recycling and composting programs; the number of community recycling and composting programs, the types and forms of materials accepted by each community program, the number of people with access to recycling and composting services at least to the extent of access to the services of disposal, the number of people with barriers to access, inbound contamination and capture rates from community programs, and the average cost of recycling and composting programs.
The End Markets report would include the total, in dollars per ton, domestic and international bale sales of recyclables and total compost sales in the end market.
With respect to the diversion of recyclable materials from a circular marketplace, the bill would create a measure to determine how much aluminum, plastic, paper or cardboard, textiles and glass has been “prevented from stay in a circular market by elimination or disposal, and for what use these specific recyclable materials have been lost.
This report would also include an assessment of whether introducing or improving recycling programs would improve recycling rates or reduce the amount of recyclables going to landfill.
Finally, the bill provides for a report on best practices for improving recycling and composting, including labeling techniques, leaflets or other consumer materials, primary and secondary school teaching resources on recycling and information campaigns.
The bill did not set a specific amount for the reports, instead authorizing “the sums necessary for the carrying out of this Act for each fiscal year”.