Recycling laws differ from state to state, with more legislation being enacted all the time. It’s important to stay on top of your state’s recycling laws so you can make the most of any sustainable waste management opportunities they offer, as well as ensure your business and home remain compliant.

Below are some of the most recent recycling and organics legislation from a variety of states.  



In January 2022, California’s Senate Bill (SB) 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy came into effect, which mandates that all businesses and residents separate organics and recyclables from general trash. The new bill focuses on reducing climate-warming pollutants by diverting biodegradable waste from landfills. 

The new California recycling law aims to do this by reducing organic waste disposal by 75% and recovering 20% of surplus edible food by 2025.

Already considered to be one of the leading states when it comes to plastic recycling legislation, California has also just signed in the new Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (S.B. 54). 

This new California recycling law targets single-use plastic packaging and plastic single-use food service ware, requiring a 25% reduction in the use of plastic packaging by 2032. Additionally, the act requires a recycling rate of 30% of the remaining single-use plastic packaging by 2028, increasing to a 65% recycling rate by 2032. Additionally, any covered material sold in or imported into California will be required to be recyclable or compostable by the same year.

Furthermore, the legislation requires that Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs), who represent the manufacturers of plastic packaging and plastic single-use food service ware, pay a $500 million surcharge to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration every year starting in 2027. This is to be deposited in the California Plastic Pollution Mitigation Fund and is part of a wave of legislation focused on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). 


New Hampshire

In June 2022, New Hampshire enacted S.B. 367, which aims to create a more circular economy for plastics. This new recycling legislation will regulate “advanced recycling technologies” as manufacturing operations rather than solid waste disposal, which will help improve investments in facilities, according to the bill. 

Advanced recycling technologies are able to process a wider variety of plastic as well as some mixed or soiled plastics, which have traditionally been highly problematic for the plastic recycling industry. What’s more, the plastics that they produce are apparently of a higher quality, allowing them to be used across a variety of industries. However, there is considerable debate around the energy usage and toxic emissions of new advanced recycling technologies, which critics argue do more harm than good.  



In March 2022, Oregon enacted a law for a mattress recycling program, making it the fourth state to do so. The program is expected to be launched by 2024 and will require all mattress manufacturers to establish and operate a mattress recycling program, overseen by the state. 

This is another example of an EPR law and aims to divert the steel, foam, fiber, and wood that make up a mattress from landfills and to recycling plants. 



A new Maine recycling law, that was enacted towards the end of 2021, but started to be implemented in July 2022, aims to make the producers of packaged goods pay to recycle them. This Extended Producer Responsibility Program for Packaging aims to move the financial burden of recycling from Maine taxpayers to the producers, at the same time providing an economic incentive for those producers to create less packaging. 

Unlike similar legislation, Maine’s new recycling law doesn’t require the use of specific packaging materials to ensure easy recycling, instead relying on the self-inflicted economic burden if producers choose to use hazardous or hard-to-process materials in their goods. 


New York

New York’s Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law was passed in 2019 but finally came into effect in January 2022. This new recycling law requires any business that generates an annual average of two tons of food waste per week to donate any excess edible food and recycle any remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler.

However, this is not a new recycling law for NYC, which has had its own city-level law on food waste for some years. It is worth noting that the rules on food waste that govern businesses in New York City have not been enforced during the coronavirus pandemic, but fines are set to be reintroduced at the end of July 2022. 

The new NYS legislation also excludes hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 schools, and farms. 



A new Delaware recycling law has just come into effect with the aim of expanding on the 2019 law banning plastic carryout bags. The new legislation started on July 1, 2022, and requires that retail stores in Delaware no longer provide plastic bags at checkout. 

While this law isn’t directly improving recycling efforts in the state, a major reason for its enactment was to reduce the impact that these plastic-film products have on regional recycling facilities.



While not strictly a new recycling law, SB 1764 was signed into effect in June 2022 and established a financial assistance program for purchasing power at municipally-owned solid waste combustion facilities. The law also has the potential to offer grants to waste-to-energy facilities to expand their capacity.

Waste-to-energy is still a highly contentious issue, often considered to be a better alternative to traditional incineration, but with no place in a truly green economy.



A new piece of legislation passed in Missouri reduced the state’s hazardous waste regulations to allow for the “advanced recycling” of plastics. The new law bans the Missouri Department of Natural Resources from introducing any hazardous waste rules that extend further than those of the federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The law also removes the need for a permit for chemical recycling facilities (aka. Advanced recycling).

This has generally been considered a step in the wrong direction by environmentalists. 


Better Recycling Legislation by State?

Overall, most recent recycling-related legislation has been considered a step in the right direction. New CA recycling laws for organics and plastics are by far the most progressive to have been enacted in recent months, while the legislation for “advanced recycling” in various states has proved to be highly controversial. 


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