Updated: Senate passes recycling, composting legislation

The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022 and the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act have been sent to the House for consideration.

S.B. 3742, The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022, and S.B. 3743, the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act, passed the U.S. Senate by a unanimous vote July 28. The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022, introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a pilot grant program for improving recycling accessibility in communities. The EPA would be able to award grants to states, local governments, Indian tribes or public-private partnerships if the bill becomes law.

The Composting Accountability Act, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, establishes data collection and reporting requirements for recycling and composting programs, including the EPA reporting on the capability of implementing a national composting strategy to reduce contamination rates for recycling.

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, says it has been working with the staff of Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Carper and ranking member Capito on these bills to improve rural recycling accessibility and recycling/composting data collection long before their introduction.

“We thank Senate leadership for bringing these bills up under unanimous consent and urge the House of Representatives to move swiftly to pass these bills on suspension as well,” NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith says in a news release following Senate passage of the bills. “We congratulate Sens. Carper and Capito and thank them for involving NWRA in an integral way throughout this process to pass this legislation that will advance America’s domestic recycling infrastructure and capabilities.”

Then-NWRA Chairman Ben Harvey of E.L. Harvey & Sons testified Feb. 2 before the EPW Committee at its hearing to examine improving domestic recycling and composting programs, particularly in rural areas. NWRA says it met with and provided assistance to EPW Committee staff as these bills were being drafted and offered its full-throated support for the bills upon their introduction in early March.

In June, Reps. David McKinley and Mikie Sherrill introduced the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (H.R. 8183) in the House, while the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (H.R. 8059) was introduced by Reps. Joe Neguse, Tim Burchett and Bill Foster. NWRA submitted a letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in June supporting House passage of these bills.

Also voicing support for the Senate’s passage of these bills is the Plastics Industry Association, Washington.

“Both of these pieces of legislation highlight much-needed improvements to the recycling system in the United States,” says Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of the association in a news 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.”

Seaholm testified June 30 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change as to the plastics industry’s significant investment in modernization and expansion of technologies to facilitate more effective recycling of materials, more readily available and efficient recovery facilities and the necessary capabilities to keep up with advancements that have transpired in plastic products over the past twenty years. Seaholm’s testimony also urged Congress to improve recycling rates by promoting market-end development to maintain a demand for recycled materials and create national standards and definitions relating to recycling.

“The Plastics Industry Association looks forward to working with the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure quick passage of these important measures in hopes that they can be signed into law by the President,” Seaholm adds.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, has urged the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act.

“SWANA applauds the Senate for unanimously passing the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act and urges the House of Representatives to schedule it for a vote quickly,” says David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO in a statement released Monday, Aug. 1. “This bill will help rural and disadvantaged communities improve their recycling systems, and we will work to encourage robust funding for the program.”

SWANA says it strongly supported the Senate legislation and is advocating for the House of Representatives to pass the companion bill. 

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