Will Your Business Be Affected by New Recycling Laws?
Commodity market volatility, supply chain woes, plastic protests, and international trade gridlock are among some circumstances that have created a need for better recycling infrastructure and programs. The result of this has left overlapping recycling legislation on the table. Some of these changes can have business implications. The changing recycling laws include such items as:
- Product bans
- Bottle bills
- Extended producer responsibility
- Waste and recycling education
- Infrastructure investments
- Solid waste recycling
- Product/material bans
There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that will solve the recycling challenges faced in today’s market; it will take a handful of complimentary stakeholder-focused policies. While there are numerous bills to keep an eye on, some core pieces of legislation represent varied approaches to tackling the longtime recycling hurdle faced by the US. Following are some notable bills introduced in Congress.
Since the 1960s, recycling and composting rates have increased, and RCAA is a way to increase these rates even further by monitoring and improving standards for composting and recycling. The EPA requires collecting and reporting domestic waste diversion and MRF comprehensive data for adopting long-term solutions.
As a way to tackle climate change and reach federal environmental emission goals, HR8059 was introduced. Specifically, the bill would:
- Discern challenges to composting infrastructure
- Develop more effective recycling data measurement and reporting guidelines by creating a comprehensive baseline of data on the US recycling system
- Evaluate federal recycling practices
- Establish best practices for recycling and composting based on data
RCAA has passed, and businesses may be expected to help administrators collect data to better understand recycling and composting efforts at the business level.
SB3742, the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022, and SB3743, the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act, passed the US Senate unanimously on July 28, 2022. This act is associated with funding and grants provided to private entities to partner with the public sector to better support collection efforts in underserved communities.
Specifically, House Resolution 8183, the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act of 2022, established a pilot grant program to improve recycling accessibility. Funding under HR8183 will be executed by the EPA Administrator awarding $500,000 – $15 million to states and local governments, Indian tribes, and public-private partnerships. The act would authorize these funds to be released annually from the fiscal year 2023 – 2027.
HR1512, Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act, or the CLEAN Future Act, creates requirements and incentives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The bill establishes an interim goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and a national goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Subtitle C of this bill establishes EPA grant programs to support zero waste initiatives such as organic recycling, infrastructure, e-waste recycling, source reduction, landfill diversion, market development, and using zero emissions fleets for recycling and composting collection. The zero waste projects are authorized at $150 million annually for 2022-2031, and landfill diversion grants for $250 million from 2022-2031.
The methane emissions and waste reduction section includes provisions for reducing emissions from the plastics industry and revamping the national recycling system. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee.
This legislation is expected to help workers and businesses compete in the transition to clean energy and technologies. It will create more domestic jobs for the climate-resilient economy.
Plastic pollution causes economic damage to the tune of $13 billion a year in marine ecosystems that impact fisheries, tourism, and cleanup efforts worldwide in economic damage to marine ecosystems per year. This includes losses to the fishing industry and tourism, as well as the cost of cleaning up beaches. Plastic is popular because it is flexible, lightweight, and sustainable. HR2238 has been introduced to the Senate and is currently in the finance committee for review. The action items for this act, which was introduced by Rep Lowenthal (D-CA), include:
- Require producers to reclaim responsibility for handling waste
- Create a federal bottle bill refund
- Reduction and phase out of highest polluting materials/products
- Carryout bag fee
- Set a minimum recycled content requirement
- Standardize recycling and composting
- Investigate the effects of plastic cigarette filters, e-cigarettes, and derelict fishing gear
- Reduce other pollution sources like microfibers and microplastics
- Expand support of reuse and refill technology
- Prevent exporting plastic waste to developing countries that cannot manage it
HR2238 is a bigger picture approach to plastics; some businesses may be indirectly impacted by certain measures. For instance, in the reduction efforts and product phase-outs, some businesses may need to reevaluate their supply chain and proactively replace high-polluting plastic materials.
Recently signed into law, SB54 is a compromise bill that drew from stakeholders from local governments, waste haulers, environmental organizations, and business groups to take charge of the increasing financial and environmental costs associated with recycling single-use plastic products and packaging. The bill contains these key points:
- 25% source reduction for single-use packaging production by 2032
- 65% of single-use packaging still being produced will need to be truly recyclable or compostable
- New producer responsibility provisions through the formation of a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) creating state government enforcement and oversight that will remove power from the PRO should they fall out of compliance
- Require $5 billion for 10 years from plastic producers of environmental mitigation funding toward environmental restoration and cleanup projects
These core recycling policies on the radar reflect just a handful of provisions from the full list being considered:
- Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act
- CLEAN Future Act – promotes manufacturing and industrial decarbonization, through buy-clean programs
- COMPETES Act – provides funding for FY2022-FY2026 to support U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and supply chain security
- COMPOST Act – Promotes the implementation of onsite composting systems and programs at institutions, nonprofits, and businesses
- Keep Containers Safe from PFAS Act – Businesses should be aware of packaging compliance
- Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act – Includes the Small Business Innovation Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for oceanic-related businesses.
- RECYCLE Act – Funding for recycling education for residents, businesses, and communities
- Recycling and Composting Accountability Act – Collects business data on waste, recycling, and composting
- Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act – Leverages public-private partnerships to reduce the costs associated with collecting and transporting recyclable materials in underserved communities
- Reducing Waste in National Parks Act – Businesses that supply the National Park Service should know that the park service will be looking to reduce waste coming in through their supply chain, these actions have already started in some parks that have banned single-use plastic bottled water
- Zero Food Waste Act – Incentivizes food waste reduction activities and disincentivizes food waste activities by businesses
If you’re not 100% sure whether your company will be impacted by impending changes to various national recycling laws, let the National Waste Associates team help you stay compliant. With sweeping shifts in policy at local, state, and federal levels, National Waste Associates ensures that your operations adhere to the most current regulations. Our in-house compliance manager would be a great asset to your company. We know the new laws and potential policies that can impact your waste and recycling efforts on-site and across many locations throughout the country, which may have varying restrictions. Let our team keep your company in the clear.
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