Congress is working through numerous recycling-related bills meant to prevent plastic pollution and reduce single-use plastic use. Here are a few of the most recent updates.
Follow our federal bill tracker here for more information on the status of these and other actions.
Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act gets House sponsors
Reps. David McKinley (R-W.V.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) introduced the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act in the House of Representatives on June 23. The bill aims to create an infrastructure grant program for projects that make recycling services more accessible to rural and disadvantaged communities that do not have reliable or nearby access to MRFs. It’s a companion to the Senate bill first introduced in March by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
National Waste & Recycling Association President and CEO Darrell Smith applauded the bill’s introduction in the House, calling it “integral to advancing America’s domestic recycling infrastructure and capabilities at a critical time when supply chain shortages are demonstrating the need for greater self-sufficiency.”
The bill is part of a package that also includes the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act, which would direct the U.S. EPA to more formally collect numerous types of recycling and composting data. First introduced in the Senate by Carper, Boozman and Capito, it was introduced in the House last week by Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), and Bill Foster (D-Ill.)
Reducing single-use plastics at the U.S. Capitol
The House draft appropriations bill for 2023 will include a measure to reduce or eliminating single-use plastic foodservice products on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, according to a recent report from the House Appropriations Committee. The measure, signed into law as part of the last appropriations package but not yet implemented, calls for coordinating with food service providers to eliminate items like single-use plastic straws, “explore the use of biodegradable items, and increase recycling and composting opportunities.”
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who advocated for the measure, applauded the committee for including the language in the bill. The House is expected to consider the spending bill later this year. The U.S. Capitol Police are also working to reduce single-use plastic water bottles, he said.
USAID launches ocean plastic initiative
The U.S. Agency for International Development on June 22 announced the Save Our Seas Initiative, a $62.5 million effort to reduce ocean plastic pollution around the world. The program will include 14 new country and regional programs in areas of the world that represent 40% of total global “mismanaged plastic waste,” the agency said. It’s inspired by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act signed in 2020 and endorsed by bill sponsors Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
During an event announcing the initiative, USAID Administrator Samantha Power said some of the funding will help the agency conduct research on household behaviors and attitudes about recycling and reusable alternatives to single-use products, which could help drive “smaller interventions [that] can have long-lasting impact on community consumption, recycling and waste management practices.”
USAID is already involved in several plastic pollution-reduction programs, including an effort in the Philippines to collect plastic sachets for items like coffee and shampoo using mobile takeback sites. The program is funded partly by producers such as Colgate-Palmolive and PepsiCo, she said.