RD605 - Waste Diversion & Recycling Task Force - A Report of Findings and Recommendations – November 2022

Executive Summary:

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was directed to establish a Waste Diversion & Recycling Task Force (Task Force) pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 42 of the 2020 Session (SJ 42) and extended pursuant to Senate Bill 1319 of the 2021 Special Session 1 (SB 1319).

Additionally, Governor Youngkin issued Executive Order 17 also requesting recommendations from this Task Force that would encourage new recycling industries to locate in Virginia. While there are a variety of tax and other incentives that can assist with this, the Task Force indicated that the primary driver for companies locating in Virginia is evidence of a steady and sufficient supply of materials and markets. Accordingly, the Task Force noted that all efforts to divert material from landfills, and encourage state purchasing of recycled content will help achieve the Governors goals.

The Task Force heard from expert guests and discussed a variety of approaches for diverting waste from landfills in economically and environmentally beneficial ways. Overall, residents and local governments carry the burden for waste management and recycling without a role in the materials sold into their jurisdictions. Additionally, technology improvements in society result in new and swiftly changing waste streams and characteristics without end of life reuse, recovery, or safe disposal options.

Despite the progress made and recognizing that resources would need to be provided to support further work, many members of the Task Force recommend that, if resources are provided, new focused working groups be formed to address specific topics, engage more stakeholders, and provide more robust analysis before legislative recommendations are made. There were five main topics considered by this Task Force which are described in more detail in the Summary of Discussion and Recommendations section. However, there were some overarching themes related to the work of the Task Force that would assist future analysis of these topics. Specifically:

• Lack of centralized data or data collection for specific topics;

• The need for specialized task groups and specialized expertise to tackle complex technical and regulatory issues; and

• Need for funding or incentives to municipalities or those who could further study or implement recommendations.

The Task Force also wants to ensure that any recommendations made also weigh the impacts on, and provide opportunities for small rural communities and low-income individuals across the state.