The Plastic Problem Q&A - #7

QUESTION from the audience at PBS NewsHour Presents: the Plastic Problem Panel Discussion

I’ve heard recycling infrastructure called for a subsidy for single-use plastic manufacturers as those manufacturers are not fully internalizing the cost of this infrastructure. What percentage of recycling infrastructure is paid for by single use plastic manufacturers versus tax payers? 


Funding for recycling can be differentiated between recycling programs and infrastructure. Recycling programs, which include the actual service of collecting and sorting materials, typically have recurring costs while recycling infrastructure which is the actual facility or building needed for the service, generally requires a large upfront investment. 

Recycling programs are often funded by local agencies through a wide range of initiatives including tipping fees from solid waste facilities, user fees (what residents are charged to have their trash and recycles picked up), sale of recyclable material and local taxes. In addition to these funding sources, some states have legislation that provide additional support to recycling programs. In California, for example, Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act, also known as the Bottle Bill, provides $15 million a year to curbside recycling programs in the state.

Recycling infrastructure on the other hand, typically involves a combination of public and private funding sources including bonds and state agency grants and loans. It is important to point out as well that are two main types of facilities considered in this infrastructure: facilities to collect and process recyclable materials and organic waste, and manufacturing facilities that produce products made of recycled materials.

SOURCES: Financing Recycling Infrastructure
California Recycling FAQ


Photo: iStockPhoto

This Q&A is part of The ETERNAL Series event PBS NewsHour Presents: The Plastic Problem.
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