On Nov. 5, Congress passed the much-anticipated and hotly contested infrastructure bill after months of political wrangling. The plan, which boasts a price tag of $1.2 trillion, will help rebuild roads, bridges and rail; expand access to clean drinking water; ensure access to high-speed internet; reduce the impacts of the climate crisis; and advance environmental justice, the Biden administration says.
Additionally, the administration says the deal will add 1.5 million jobs per year over the next decade.
Specific to the waste and recycling sector, the bill contains provisions of the RECYCLE Act, which will help provide grants via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help educate households and consumers about their residential and community recycling programs to improve participation and reduce contamination. It also calls for the EPA to develop a model recycling program toolkit for states, local governments, Indian tribes and partners to deploy to improve recycling rates and decrease contamination in the recycling stream.
The bill also contains grants to encourage battery recycling and promotes the DRIVE-Safe Act, which directs the Department of Transportation to promulgate regulations to implement an apprenticeship program for licensed commercial motor vehicle drivers under the age of 21 to help alleviate the driver shortage across industry, including in waste and recycling.
According to the Biden administration, the infrastructure bill will:
- Deliver clean water to all American families and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines. Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and childcare centers lack safe drinking water. The infrastructure deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools and childcare centers all across the country.
- Deliver $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation will also help lower prices for internet service so that more Americans can afford internet access.
- Repair and rebuild roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users. In the United States, one in five miles of highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges, are in poor condition. The legislation will reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years and invest $110 billion in additional funding to repair roads and bridges and support major projects. The deal makes the largest investment in repairing and reconstructing U.S. bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will help rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also includes the first “Safe Streets and Roads for All” program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities, which claimed more than 20,000 lives in the first half of 2021.
- Improve transportation options for millions of Americans and reduce greenhouse emissions through the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history. America’s public transit infrastructure is inadequate, with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track, signals and power systems in need of replacement. The transportation sector in the United States is now the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation includes $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. In total, the new investments and reauthorization in the deal provide $89.9 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over the next five years. The legislation will expand public transit options across every state; replace thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero-emission vehicles; and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities.
- Upgrade U.S. airports and ports to strengthen supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation. According to the Biden administration, this will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs and reduce emissions. The legislation invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and waterways and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies.
- Make the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The legislation will invest $66 billion in additional rail funding to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor and bring better rail service to areas outside the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
- Invest $7.5 billion to build out a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the United States. This is a critical step to fighting the climate crisis and creating good U.S. manufacturing jobs, the Biden administration says. The legislation will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work and shop. This investment will support the president’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers to accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality and create quality jobs across the country.
- Upgrade U.S. power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country. According to the Department of Energy, power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The deal’s more than $65 billion investment includes the largest investment in clean energy transmission and grid in American history. It will upgrade U.S. power infrastructure by building thousands of miles of new transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewables and clean energy while lowering costs.
- Make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, floods and wildfires and weatherization.
- Deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle. The bill will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and create jobs. According to the Biden administration, this investment will benefit communities of color, as it has been found that 26 percent of Black Americans and 29 percent of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall.