U.S. Senate Advances Bipartisan Bills to Bolster Recycling and Composting Initiatives Nationwide

In a unified effort to enhance recycling services and bolster composting programs, the U.S. Senate has passed two bipartisan bills aimed at fortifying recycling and composting infrastructure throughout communities across the nation.

This week, by unanimous consent, the Senate approved the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (S. 1189) and the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (S. 1194). These legislative measures aim to facilitate the development of recycling and composting infrastructure projects, enhance rural recycling efforts, improve data collection methods, and explore avenues for implementing a comprehensive national composting strategy.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) stressed the urgency for Congress to take decisive action to mitigate the volume of waste entering landfills, amplify local capacity to streamline recyclable collection, and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of recycling and composting programs.

Reed remarked, “We can’t simply discard cardboard, paper, plastic, and bottles into bins and consider our job done. We must invest in enhancing recycling efficiency for individuals and communities. These bipartisan bills represent a prudent step towards upgrading our recycling infrastructure, ensuring its economic and environmental sustainability, expanding composting opportunities, and collecting vital data to gauge the efficacy of recycling programs.”

A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that over 681,000 jobs in the United States are linked to recycling and reuse activities.

Led by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the two bipartisan bills aim to elevate the national recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030, up from the current 32.1 percent. Achieving this objective necessitates federal assistance to foster collaboration among states, municipalities, businesses, communities, and individuals to revamp the nation’s recycling system and conserve natural resources.

The Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act empowers the EPA to establish a pilot program designed to enhance recycling services in underserved regions, including rural communities. Eligible communities stand to receive federal grants aimed at bolstering local recycling infrastructure and expanding access.

Additionally, the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act mandates the EPA to gather data, compile reports, and formulate best practices for recycling and composting programs nationwide. Under this legislation, the EPA would evaluate composting infrastructure in communities to identify barriers hindering the implementation of a national composting strategy, while also monitoring and reporting on recycling and composting rates at federal agencies biennially.

With unanimous approval from the Senate, these bipartisan bills must now secure passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. Companion legislation for the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act has been introduced in the House by Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-1), while Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-2) has introduced companion legislation for the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act.




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