Federal Laws on Recycling and Composting in the United States
Here, you'll find resources for recycling and composting programs in the United States. This guide was compiled for local municipalities, schools, businesses, and interested citizens; if you're involved in a waste-diversion program of any size — or if you're planning a new one — these resources can help.
Regulations and guidelines on waste diversion are enforced at the federal, state, and local levels, requiring a regional breakdown. Keep reading for an overview of national laws covering waste diversion, or click here to find information for your state.
Federal Regulations for Recycling and Composting
Broadly speaking, recycling and composting are on the rise in the United States. The recycling of municipal solid waste, or the trash we generate in our residences, has increased dramatically since 2000. In 2013, the last year for which the EPA provides statistics, municipal recycling programs processed 87.2 million tons of waste, making up 34.3 percent of the total volume of waste generated.
However, laws, programs, and guidelines about handling solid waste are generally handled at the state and local levels, with some level of federal oversight as specified in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. For more information on federal regulations and programs regarding recycling, composting, and waste management generally — including EPA policy — see our federal resources page here.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
This massive piece of legislation outlines acceptable management of waste, both hazardous and not, in the United States. The term RCRA does not refer only to the law, though. It also covers EPA policies and recommendations on waste management, as well as regulations created under the law.
The RCRA's approach to handling solid waste in the United States is contained in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 239 through 282. Within these pages the comprehensive law addresses recycling directly many times. Browse the language of the law on the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, here.