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United States Invests $100 Million to Expand Recycling Infrastructure

The EPA is expanding the recycling and waste management infrastructure in the United States, thanks to a $100 million investment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

Two major funding opportunities created through the investment are to be implemented as a part of the EPA’s National Recycling Strategy. The EPA has selected 25 communities to receive over $73 million in grants from the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling fund. Additional funding of $32 million will allow states and territories to improve solid waste management.

The EPA intends for the funding to contribute to a more circular economy, keeping materials in circulation for as long as possible and avoiding the flow of single-use materials to landfills.

The U.S. recycling system faces a number of challenges, such as reduced markets for recycled materials and a recycling system that has fallen behind the present-day waste stream. The recycling system was dependent on exports to China for a number of years, and once the country banned further exports in 2018, the U.S. found itself with inadequate domestic infrastructure to handle such large volumes of recyclable waste.

The EPA’s National Recycling Strategy, along with this recent investment, is working to improve markets for recycled commodities, increase collection of recyclable materials, and educate the public on the value of proper recycling, among other efforts.

How Grants Will Help Improve Recycling, Especially in Disadvantaged Communities

Examples of projects selected for the Solid Waste Infrastructure Grants range from purchasing new fleets of recycling collection vehicles to enhancing composting and organic waste collection infrastructure. The grants for states and territories, which range between $360,000 to $750,000, will go towards projects such as improving solid waste management plans or strengthening data collection to inform operations.

Of the $73 million being devoted to communities, $56 million is to be directed toward projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. The EPA is also working to ensure waste is being properly managed at waste facilities to avoid potential health hazards for workers and communities surrounding such sites.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda tackles our most pressing environmental challenges including climate change and lead in drinking water, and today we add another historic investment to better manage waste in communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By investing in better recycling, EPA is deploying resources to provide recycling services across the country, including in disadvantaged communities, while preventing waste that contributes to the climate crisis, supporting local economies and creating good-paying jobs.”