- The U.S. EPA has opened the application process for new, long-awaited recycling grants and said the first round will disburse $100 million to states, municipalities, and other entities. Applications are due Feb. 13, 2023, following an extension.
- The agency will host a series of webinars in late November through early January to provide more information on how to apply. The information sessions could also help clear up questions about whether specific types of projects will be eligible for funding.
- The application process is open for the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling grant, which aims to build, expand and upgrade waste management systems. The application process is also available for the Recycling Education and Outreach grant, meant to improve public information on recycling.
Many recycling stakeholders see this grant funding is one of the most significant federal investments in recycling in recent memory. They have called on the EPA to quickly disburse the funds ever since the grants were first announced. The funding for the programs came from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law.
The Solid Waste Association of North America, which was among the groups urging the EPA to act swiftly, applauded the program launch. Environmental advocates say they’re relieved incineration projects or chemical recycling don’t appear to be eligible for this funding. The American Chemistry Council, Flexible Packaging Association and Plastics Industry Association had previously lobbied for the grants to include those types of projects, Plastics News reported.
The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling grant program funding will be allocated in two categories, the EPA says. One $40 million segment will go in a political subdivisions category for small governments such as counties, cities and towns that want to improve materials management infrastructure. Eligible projects might improve or expand collection and processing capabilities, optimize end markets for recyclables, upgrade equipment at MRFs, improve composting and anaerobic digestion systems or create reuse programs, among other ideas.
The other category, for states and territories, will allocate a total of $30 million for projects to improve solid waste management planning as well as data collection projects that “demonstrate progress” toward meeting the EPA’s national recycling goal of 50% by 2030 and its goal to halve food waste by 2030. For this category, the EPA requests applicants file a notice of intent to participate by Dec. 15.
A third category for federally recognized tribes, including Alaska Native villages and intertribal consortia, will be announced “later this year,” according to the EPA.
The $70 million offered in the first funding round is part of $275 million in grants earmarked in the infrastructure bill for recycling and waste infrastructure over the next five years.
The EPA will also allot $30 million for recycling education and outreach grants, which are meant to improve public education around waste prevention. Grants can go toward projects that inform the public about ways to reduce waste, decrease contamination in recycling streams and increase recycling rates “in a manner that is equitable for all,” the EPA said in its announcement. Examples of funding opportunities include public service announcements, door-to-door education and outreach campaigns, social media and digital outreach or other advertising campaigns.
States, tribes, territories and local governments, as well as nonprofits and public/private partnerships, are eligible to apply for the recycling education and outreach grants.
The $30 million is a portion of the $75 million pot set aside for recycling education in the infrastructure law meant to be allocated through 2026.
This story has been updated to reflect EPA’s extension of the grant application deadline.