EPA spared large cuts in new budget

EPA spared large cuts in new budget

By Jake Thomas, Resource Recycling

President Barack Obama has introduced his 2014 budget, which cuts funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by 3.5 percent from 2012 levels, affecting some recycling programs.

The president's proposed budget for the EPA includes a reduction in funding to waste minimization and recycling programs operating under the purview of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which establishes the agency's authority to control hazardous and non-hazardous waste. While RCRA gives state and local agencies the authority for managing waste as recycling, EPA still provides information, guidance and polices to these entities to help them increase recycling and reduce waste.

Under the president's budget, $9.4 million would be directed to waste-minimization and recycling programs under RCRA, $68,000 less than the amount in the 2012 budget.

Another initiative operating under the purview of RCRA is the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which includes several components meant to increase recycling and reuse of resources while seeking to shift "waste management" to "materials management." Under the program, EPA convenes dialogue with "key stakeholders," provides science and information to the public, while also establishing challenges to specific sectors, including government agencies, aimed at reducing waste.

During fiscal year 2014, EPA will seek to use the SMM program to offset the annual use of virgin resources by 8.6 million tons, while also working on ways to manage food and used electronics more sustainably.

In a conference call with the EPA's top officials, Resource Recycling asked how the cuts to RCRA would impact the SMM program.

"That cut is not going to result in cuts to Sustainable Materials Management," replied Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

"The EPA wants to move forward on that because of the environmental and economic benefits of that program," he added.

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