On February 5, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies held a hearing on the opportunities and challenges in improving community recycling programs. Testifying on behalf of NACo, Montgomery County, Md. Director of the Department of Environmental Protection Adam Ortiz discussed the county role in waste management and resource recovery.
In his testimony, Director Ortiz informed members of the subcommittee that environmental stewardship is a primary function of county governments to ensure healthy, safe and vibrant communities for our residents. In order to ensure a safe and clean environment for residents, Director Ortiz stated, “Counties have the authority and responsibility to undertake solid waste management activities, such as operating waste facilities, recycling centers, residential and commercial waste collection, landfills, combustors and transfer stations.”
Director Ortiz highlighted four main points for the subcommittee’s consideration as Congress assess challenges and opportunities in strengthening community recycling programs:
- County governments play an essential role in the nation’s recycling systems, as local governments are the primary provider of waste management services across the country.
- Due to tighter restrictions on recycled materials, counties have new challenges and opportunities to maintain recycling programs.
- Counties are taking innovative approaches to improve and sustain the nation’s recycling systems.
- Additional federal guidelines and investments and early, consistent, and meaningful engagement with intergovernmental partners are vital in the development and implementation of recycling standards, policies, programs and regulations.
Counties will continue to work with Congress and other federal agency partners to develop policies that will improve America’s recycling system.