July 01, 2022

Rep. Neguse Recycling Bill Moves Through House Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change

Representatives Neguse, Burchett, and Foster unveiled the bipartisan, bicameral bill to strengthen America’s recycling and composting infrastructure earlier this month.

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change moved the bipartisan Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (RCAA), introduced June 16th by Congressman Joe Neguse, through committee. The Subcommittee’s hearing entitled  “No Time to Waste: Solutions for America’s Broken Recycling System” focused its efforts on four bills that create solutions to improve our recycling and composting infrastructure.

“I’m thrilled to see our proposal to improve American recycling and composting come one step closer to becoming a reality. This bill fosters zero-waste living in communities across our nation and will empower individuals to make conscious decisions that have a real, cumulative impact on our environment. I am thankful to my colleagues for moving our bill through Committee.” said Congressman Neguse.

Neguse’s bill helps identify national composting infrastructure challenges and improves recycling data measurement and reporting by filling critical information gaps. The bill is led in the U.S. Senate by Senators Carper, Moore Capito, and Boozman. 

“Our broken recycling system is a growing burden on our environment, businesses, and communities. Countless Americans across the country recycle every day in an effort to do their part to scale back waste and pollution, and it’s time Congress did its part to get our recycling system back on track,” said Committee Chairman Pallone (NJ-06) and Subcommittee Chairman Tonko (NY-20). “Each of the bills we’ll consider present important and creative fixes for our broken system. Together they represent a robust set of solutions for strengthening our domestic supply chains and ensuring this critical environmental tool is effective and efficient.”

More information for this hearing can be found here

Background:

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. 2020 reports show that Colorado’s recycling rate hovers around 15%, startlingly low compared to the national average of 32%. About half of Colorado counties have recycling available for residents at the curb.  

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

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