June 16, 2022

Neguse, Burchett, Foster Unveil Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Strengthen America’s Recycling and Composting Infrastructure

The lawmakers are pushing for an increase in sustainability amidst reports stating the U.S has a national recycling rate of only 32%.

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Bill Foster (D-IL) unveiled the bipartisan, bicameral Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (RCAA), legislation to identify national composting infrastructure challenges and improve recycling data measurement and reporting. This bill will fill critical information gaps in America’s recycling and composting systems to help foster waste-free living across the country. The bill is led in the U.S. Senate by Senators Carper, Moore Capito, and Boozman. 

“To support American sustainability and ensure that we are doing all we can as a nation to help protect our environment, we must promote recycling and waste reduction in our communities, empowering individuals to make conscious decisions that have a real, cumulative impact on our environment.” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “This bill will ensure that Americans have the resources and information needed to support recycling efforts. It also increases government support for these processes, moving our nation towards sustainability.” 

Although Colorado is known for its scenic public spaces and pristine outdoors, the state’s overall recycling rate is ranked poorly in relation to the rest of the nation. 2018 reports show that Colorado’s recycling rate hovers around 17%, startlingly low compared to the national average of 32%. About half of counties in Colorado have recycling available for residents at the curb. 

“There is very little reliable, widely available data on recycling and composting programs in the United States. This bill would provide more information on this topic that can be used by private businesses to spur innovation and by state and local governments to improve their communities' recycling programs without imposing one-size-fits-all rules on the federal level.” said Rep. Burchett.

"Recycling is instrumental in improving the environment, making our economy more efficient, and fueling innovation," said Foster. "Despite this, our nation consistently lags behind in recycling and composting rates. This bill works to increase and refine data collection for our recycling and composting practices, ensuring we can preserve these systems and their ability to act as a sustainable economic driver in our society."

The RCAA requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect and publish data on recycling and composting rates across the country to provide an accurate reflection of performance both nationwide and at the state level.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Identify National Composting Infrastructure Challenges; requiring the EPA to work with state, local, and Tribal governments to assess the capability of the United States to implement a national residential composting strategy. 

  • Improve Recycling Data Measurement and Reporting; creating a comprehensive baseline of data on the U.S. recycling system. 

  • Assess End Markets and Diversion; directing the EPA to prepare a report on the end market sale of all recyclable materials and compostable materials collected from households and publicly available drop-off centers.

  • Evaluate Federal Recycling Practices; asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the recycling practices across the federal government and issue a report that documents the annual recycling rates of federal agencies.

  • Establish Recycling and Composting Best Practices; using improved data collection and reporting, the RCAA would establish voluntary guidelines for state, local, and Tribal governments to enhance recycling and composting efforts

Read bill text HERE