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Bills to Improve Recycling Accessibility Passed by Senate; Sent to House

U.S. Capitol Building

The U.S. House of Representatives will consider legislation to increase recycling accessibility in communities and improve recycling data collection when summer recess ends this month. The Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (RCAA), S.3743, would identify challenges, improve data collection, and determine best practices with respect to recycling and composting in America. The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022, S.3742, would provide a program to fund projects to improve recycling infrastructure in communities. Both bills passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent in July.

In an August 2, 2022 report on S.3743, S. Report 117-137, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, cited contamination and misleading labeling, limited infrastructure, and limited end-markets for recycled materials as challenges to recycling programs in the U.S. To help alleviate these roadblocks, S.3743 would: 

  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prepare a report on the capability of the U.S. to implement a national composting strategy for the purposes of reducing contamination rates for recycling
  • Require annual reports to include the total annual recycling and composting rates reported by Federal agencies and the total annual percentage of products containing recyclable materials, compostable material, or recovered materials purchased by all Federal agencies
  • Require biannual reports that include: the number of community curbside recycling, drop-off recycling, and composting programs; types of materials accepted by each program; and contamination rates of community curbside recycling, drop-off recycling, and composting programs

Based on the reports and other information, EPA would determine voluntary guidelines that would include labeling techniques for waste, compost, and recycling bins, with the goal of creating consistent, readily available, and understandable labeling across jurisdictions. 

The second bill, S.3742, would establish a pilot grant program for improving recycling accessibility in communities. Priority would be given to communities that do not have a materials recovery within a 75-mile radius. According to the legislation, the goal of the pilot grant program “is to fund eligible projects that will significantly improve accessibility to recycling systems through investments in infrastructure in underserved communities through the use of a hub-and-spoke model for recycling infrastructure development.”

Applauding the Senate passage of these bills, Matt Seaholm, President and CEO of PLASTICS, stated in a press release, “Better data and better infrastructure are key to the implementation of successful recycling. More accurate data will tell us exactly where recycling system deficiencies are, and improved infrastructure will aid in more efficient collection, sorting, and recycling of all materials.”