WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to examine bipartisan recycling and composting draft legislation.

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“As Ranking Member Capito, Senator Boozman—my Senate Recycling Caucus co-chair—and many of our colleagues know, the topic of today’s hearing is something that I care about deeply.

“As an avid recycler and composter, I have long believed in environmental stewardship. After all, we have a moral duty to leave behind a cleaner, healthier planet for our children. Yet if we look around us—from the waste littering the I-95 on-ramps in Delaware to the record amount of plastic polluting our oceans—it is clear that we are not holding up our end of the bargain to future generations.

“We have to do our part to improve our nation’s recycling and composting efforts. I am hopeful that today’s discussion on two draft pieces of legislation will provide us with a bipartisan roadmap to address several of the challenges that America’s recycling efforts currently face.

“One of these challenges is the availability of good data. This past November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first-ever National Recycling Strategy. The document offers a transformative vision for strengthening our nation’s waste management efforts. It also highlights the need for greater standardization around data collection.

“To address this, Senator Boozman and I—with the help of our staff—have developed the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act. Our bill would improve EPA’s ability to gather data on our nation’s recycling systems and explore opportunities for implementing a national composting strategy.

“This bill is an important first step toward a national composting strategy. I hope that the experts here with us today, as well as other stakeholders, will support our efforts to get the ball rolling at long last.

“Today, we will also focus on increasing access to recycling. Many Americans in disadvantaged communities want to recycle and compost, but are unable to do so because they live in neighborhoods that lack curbside pickup, bottle return, and other necessary recycling infrastructure. Senator Capito’s Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act would help address this by creating a pilot program at EPA to improve recycling services in underserved areas.

“This legislation has the potential to bring many communities into the recycling world, including those in urban and suburban areas, while also protecting our environment. I commend Senator Capito for her work and leadership on this bill. And I want to work with her to make sure the bill helps jumpstart recycling in communities with the greatest need, especially those that have been historically left behind.

“Both of these bills are the result of true collaboration and reflect a substantial amount of bipartisan effort dedicated to exploring our nation’s recycling and composting challenges.  

“This fall, our committee held several recycling roundtables, as well as a hearing on the importance of transitioning to a circular economy—a way of doing business that would mean less pollution from landfills and stronger, more efficient supply chains. We benefitted from the suggestions of numerous stakeholders on how Congress could collaborate with industry to bolster recycling efforts.

“As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress provided unprecedented levels of funding for recycling infrastructure and educational programs. The two bills we are examining today represent our next step to build on these efforts—to turn the challenges of recycling and composting into opportunities to reduce planet-warming emissions and create good-paying jobs.

“Someday, I hope to be asked by my children or grandchildren, ‘What did you do to stop climate change and save our planet?’ And I want to be able to say, ‘My generation did everything we could.’ Working with Senators Capito, Boozman, and other members of this committee, I embrace the chance to work on a bipartisan basis to dramatically improve our recycling and composting systems in America. By doing so, we can respect our planet and preserve the precious resources God has bestowed upon us.”