A recycling technician loads an 800-pound block of compressed aluminum cans at OCC Recycling Center in Costa Mesa, California on July 14, 2022. Many recycling systems in the U.S. have low efficiency and participation rates, which new EPA grants aim to improve. Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced grants of more than $100 million to expand the country’s recycling and waste management infrastructure. It is the largest investment in recycling by the EPA in three decades.

Funding for the grants will come from President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Under the new funding opportunity, Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling, 25 communities have been selected by the EPA to receive grants of more than $73 million, a press release from the EPA said.

Approximately $32 million in additional funding will be made available for states and territories to upgrade their solid waste management planning, for the implementation of plans and for data collection.

“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 in the press release. “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.”

The grants will support the implementation of the National Recycling Strategy, an EPA initiative to build a circular economy committed to keeping products, materials and services in circulation as long as possible.

“Recycling helps us protect our environment while creating jobs and promoting economic growth,” said Senator Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in the press release. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this unprecedented investment will provide communities across our country with the opportunity to improve their recycling programs and implement more sustainable waste-management practices. I applaud EPA for the hard work in getting this funding out the door, and I look forward to working together to advance policies that strengthen our nation’s recycling infrastructure.”

The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grant Program is part of the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which has a goal of ensuring 40 percent of the benefits of certain federal investments go to disadvantaged communities that have been and continue to be overburdened by pollution, underserved and marginalized. About 76 percent — $56 of the $73 million — of the total community-allotted funding will be put toward projects benefitting disadvantaged communities.

The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grants for Communities will provide support for waste management systems improvements throughout the country, with grants of $500,000 to $4 million each. Projects that have been selected include bins for curbside recycling in communities currently without access; new recycling collection vehicles; reduction of contamination through material recovery facility upgrades; enhancements to organic and composting infrastructure and programs; and construction of facilities that improve reuse infrastructure for materials like food waste and plastics and improve recycling and composting.

The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grants for States and Territories will provide grants from $360,000 to $750,000 to all 56 territories, states and the District of Columbia. The biggest grant amounts will go to the states and territories with the most need. The grants will help achieve the EPA’s Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal, as well as its National Recycling Goal. Activities funded by these grants include the improvement of programs for managing post-consumer materials through updating or developing solid waste management plans, as well as bolstering data collection efforts.

Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $275 million total will be provided from 2022 to 2026 in grants under the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which is the biggest recycling investment in 30 years. Additional funding for the grants comes from EPA’s annual appropriations.

“Today’s announcement for states, territories, and communities is the first round of funding from this new grant program,” the press release said. “In the coming months, EPA will announce the selected recipients of the recycling grants for Tribes and intertribal consortia, as well as the recipients of EPA’s new Recycling Education and Outreach grant program.”

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