Recyclers Anticipate Greater Focus on Environmental Compliance, Justice

When the Biden administration takes office on Jan. 21, recycling industry exerts anticipate that the new crop of officials could make major modifications to environmental rules and processes that might impact the recycling industry and its customers.

“We anticipate that the new administration will use administrative and executive powers wherever possible to drive their environmental and climate agenda,” said Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy.

During its tenure, the Trump administration devolved to the state some authorities previously held within the Environmental protection Agency. The emerging Biden team is expected to reclaim those powers at the federal level.

“We also anticipate that they will initiate more Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act reviews of manufacturer compliance, as well as look more closely at manufacturer activity in communities populated by poorer and minority populations,” Adler added.

The Clean Air Act regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources, while the Clean Water Act regulators quality standards for surface water and regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act governs the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.

The emerging Biden administration’s environmental team includes Michael Regan, currently chief of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
When announcing his environmental team, President-elect Biden stressed that they will be focusing on “delivering environmental justice” for “low-income white, Black, brown and Native American communities who too often don’t have the clean air and clean water.” During his four-year tenure in North Carolina, Regan was noted for spearheading a 17-member Environmental Justice and Equity Board, which included a focus on climate justice.

Cheryl Coleman, ISRI’s vice president for sustainability, said that under the Biden administration recyclers can expect more stringent rules, with “environmental justice being and important component of agendas, especially at EPA.”

The top EPA nominee, Coleman said, “is heavily engaged in the coal combustion management efforts in North Carolina, and his interaction with communities will influence how he looks at other priorities like recycling.”