Federal Recycling-Related Bills

Congress has also seen a historic influx of big bills in 2021, although these haven’t progressed at quite the same rate as they have at the state level.
In 2020, the only environmental bill to make it into law was the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. The bill aims to reduce, remove and prevent plastic waste in the environment, especially waterways, through clean-up efforts and investments in plastic recycling infrastructure.
The following bills have been introduced to Congress this year:




Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act Calls for EPR programs for packaging and a nationwide 10-cent beverage container deposit program.

Aims to ban single-use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene foodservice containers, and discourage single-use plastic utensils and straws.

Mandatory post-consumer recycled content minimums would increase from 25% by 2025 to 80% in 2040.

Calls for more efforts to promote reusable and refillable containers, and to reduce microplastic pollution through pilot programs and other research.

Reintroduced March 25; referred to the Senate Committee on Finance


CLEAN Future Act Aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.

Aims to bring greenhouse gas emissions down 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Calls for numerous waste and recycling efforts to achieve that goal, along with other energy, economic, infrastructure and job-related initiatives.

Would establish post-consumer recycled content standards for certain products, implement a national bottle deposit program and direct the EPA to standardize the labeling and collection of recyclables.

Would create a task force to establish an EPR system for certain products.

Directs the EPA to develop grants for zero-waste initiatives, recycling and waste reduction education, and composting or anaerobic digestion projects.

Introduced March 2; multiple committee hearings as recently as June 29


COMPOST Act Would provide $200 million a year through 2031 in grants and loan guarantees for composting infrastructure projects. Introduced July 16; referred to the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Aug. 11
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Would fund roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure.

Calls for improving residential recycling programs through public education and outreach, authorizing up to $15 million per year in grants through 2026.

Other recycling-related provisions include sections related to battery recycling.

Introduced July 9, RECYCLE ACT text added late July. Passed Senate Aug 10 and sent to House Aug 16.


Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act Would put a 5-cent per pound excise tax on virgin plastic used to make single-use products.

Asks the Biden administration to negotiate international trade agreements or treaties to reduce virgin plastic production to 10% of 2010 levels by 2050.

Introduced June 8 and referred to multiple committees; approved by House Committee on Natural Resources July 14


PAPER Act Aims to prevent waste-to-energy facilities from earning a tax credit when they use “commonly recycled” paper as a feedstock. Reintroduced April 27; referred to Senate Committee on Finance
Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act Aims to bolster the U.S. plastics recycling industry’s competitiveness in the global market while addressing plastic pollution issues. Reintroduced April 22; referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
RECOVER Act Aims to boost infrastructure projects through up to $500 million in matching federal grants for improvements to MRFs, curbside collection systems and education programs. Reintroduced April 5; referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
RECYCLE Act Now included in the INVEST in America Act, the bill focuses primarily on improving the effectiveness of residential recycling programs through public education and outreach. Full text added to INVEST in America Act in July
REDUCE Act The bill aims to help incentivize recycling, hold plastic producers accountable for waste, and help recycled plastic markets compete with markets for virgin plastics.

Would set a fee of 10 cents per pound for the sale of most virgin plastics starting in 2022 and increase it to 20 cents per pound in 2024.

Introduced Aug 5 and sent to Senate Committee on Finance


Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act Aims to restrict the export of “untested, non-working electronic scrap” from the U.S. in an effort to keep such material from causing pollution in other countries or being used by electronics counterfeiters. Reintroduced May 7; referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Zero Food Waste Act Would award a total of $650 million per year in EPA grants through fiscal year 2031 for programs and infrastructure projects meant to reduce or prevent food waste. Introduced July 16 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Zero Waste Act Would authorize $150 million in grant funding each year from 2022 to 2031 for zero-waste projects such as organics recycling infrastructure, e-scrap recycling, source reduction programs, and other efforts meant to reduce waste and aid market development.

Would also provide a total of $250 million in grants over that 10-year period for disposal diversion projects.

Reintroduced March 19 and referred to the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change March 22