New Recycling Legislation

May 11, 2023

Updates on New Federal and State Regulations

Recycling has been an issue in the US for a long time which is reflected in the low recycling rates. Due to this, state and federal governments have been working on legislation to try and boost recycling rates. Along with boosting recycling rates, state governments have also been working on recycled content laws and EPR bills to promote the use of recycled materials and make items easier to recycle. Here are some of the recent laws and proposed bills we have seen this year.

Last year, two bills passed through the Senate, the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (RIAA) and the Recycling and Composting Accessibility Act (RCAA) [1]. The goal of both of these bills was to boost recycling across the country as the US has extremely low recycling rates, especially compared to other developed nations [1]. While these bills made it through the Senate last July, they did make any progress with the House of Representatives [1]. In April 2023, though, the bills were reintroduced to the Senate with the same goal of boosting recycling rates across the country [1]. With the RIAA, the EPA will be required to provide grants to help make recycling easier, especially in disadvantaged communities [1]. It would also help expand recycling collection and set a budget of $150 million a year for recycling initiatives [1]. The RCAA would set a national composting strategy based on what the current efforts are and would collect data from composting programs nationwide [1]. The bill would also set voluntary guidelines for state and local governments to follow to increase composting and recycling [1].

Washington State has also been passing legislation that would tackle producer responsibility, recycled content, and bottle deposit schemes [2]. This bill would have companies set up producer responsibility organizations by 2027 to help them manage packaging waste [2]. The bill also adds a bottle return scheme, where a 10-cent deposit is placed on beverage bottles with a minimum recycling rate of 60% by 2028 and rising to 80% by 2030 [2]. It would also require that 5% of those be reusable by 2028, then an increase to 25% by 2035 [2]. The goal of this bill is to increase recycling statewide and is supported by the Association of Plastics Recyclers [2]. While many support this bill, many don’t support the full bill. The Washington Refuse and Recycling don’t think the bottle bill is necessary due to the state’s high recycling rate, but bill supporters believe that the bottle deposit system would help the state reach the same recycling rates as Oregon [2].

New York state has also been working on its EPR which would make them the fifth state to do so with 3 different proposed bills [3]. Governor Kathy Hochul proposed her own EPR bill, which poses a fee between $500 and $25,000 depending on the size of the company, and recycled content in rigid plastic would start at 20% in 2024 and increase by 10% every three years until recycled content reaches 50% [3]. The Senate has created two bills: one that would make over $1 million to help fund recycling infrastructure, improve recycling, and work to reduce packaging, and another that would decrease packaging and increase recycling by up to 10% within the first two years of implementation and rise 10 points a year reaching 90% after 12 years [3].

Indiana is another state to recently pass legislation on promoting advanced recycling in the state. Advanced recycling is a recycling process that uses chemicals to allow more plastics to be recycled when compared to traditional recycling processes, and the material created from the recycled plastic has similar quality to virgin materials [4]. The state will use a third-party system to track the progress of utilizing the advanced recycling processes and is the 24th state to adopt legislation regarding advanced recycling [4]. It would not be a surprise to see more states adopt advanced recycling legislation in the coming months and years.

[1] Federal bills for recycling infrastructure grants, composting strategies make a comeback | Waste Dive

[2] ‘Powerful’ plastics bill in Washington state praised by recyclers | Plastics News

[3] New York lawmakers consider three packaging EPR bills (

[4] Indiana Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Pass Advanced Recycling Legislation to Boost Economy, Help End Plastic Waste (

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