Senators laud recycling grant program, mull improvements

By Ellie Borst | 05/23/2024 06:20 AM EDT

“The U.S. recycling system will never be sustainable if there is an overreliance on federal grant funding,” Republican Shelley Moore Capito said during a hearing.

Garbage collector in Seattle.

A garbage collector in Seattle. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has held numerous hearings on solid waste and recycling concerns. Elaine Thompson/AP

Senators seemed pleased with on-the-ground progress from federal grant money to boost recycling while acknowledging just how much action is still needed.

During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday, Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) checked in with state and local leaders on the efficacy of EPA’s new grant program and what else the government can do to improve the nation’s recycling rate.

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law set aside $275 million for Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling grants and another $75 million for recycling education and outreach grants. It’s the largest federal investment in recycling in over 30 years, Carper said.


So far, EPA has already doled out $198 million in grants, which includes money for every state and territory to compile critical data on waste characterization, market assessments and analyses of current recycling facilities.