Much has been said about recycling and the state of infrastructure. In this NothingWasted! episode, we bring you a dynamic session from WasteExpo 2022: “Government’s Role in Funding Recycling Infrastructure.”
The discussion focused on California’s efforts and investments in infrastructure and projects to help the state meet its recycling goals and recycled content requirements. As the fifth-largest economy in the world with some of the most aggressive targets for landfill diversion, recycling, and use of recycled content resin, California is leading the way toward a future where investment in waste and recycling infrastructure is the shared responsibility of many public and private stakeholders.
It features Salvatore Coniglio, CEO, Recology; Laura Ferrante, Government Affairs Advocate, Resource Recovery Coalition; Fiona Ma, Treasurer, State of California; and Chris Wirth, VP of Marketing, AMP Robotics. The session was moderated by Rachel Oster, Owner & Principal, Diversion Strategies.
Here is a sneak peek into the conversation:
Ma sat the stage by discussing the role of the State Treasurer’s Office in promoting recycling and green businesses. She noted the popularity of the sales-tax-exemption program, which allows companies to waive sales taxes on equipment that will be used to help clean up the environment. She also talked about the Cal Competes program, which allows businesses new to the state to apply for income-tax deferrals of three-to-five years. Coniglio said that, in Recology’s experience, these programs are a great way to “offset a capital expense and invest in robotics or other components to increase diversion, or build out compost facilities.”
Ferrante went on to discuss the excitement around California’s state budget, which last year allocated $270 million (over two years) to support the development of a circular economy in the state—“by far the most we’ve ever seen at one time.” She noted that the money will flow through a number of different programs that support recycling, but her presentation focused primarily on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant & Loan Program. That program promotes infrastructure development to increase waste diversion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Wirth then talked about the importance of funding for investment efforts. “What we’ve seen is, with California taking the lead, it sets the tone for the rest of the country and really stimulates private investment from venture capital. So it’s very critical. Our founder started the company on a grant.”
Several times during the session, Ma encouraged industry members to “weigh in more with legislators and policy makers.” She noted that legislators need to hear from the industry on how to better collaborate and advance sustainable programs, and that legislators can’t “take the arrows” by themselves.
Coniglio observed that, over the course of his 23-year career in the industry, “The government in California has set the bar and gotten a lot more involved. We’ve seen local and regional governments throughout the entire state work to standardize programs.” He also talked about how public-private partnerships have been key in getting projects done.
Listen to the full episode here.