Golden Gate University Law Review


This Article describes the major shortcomings of existing US federal, state, and local laws related to the recycling of solid waste; explains why these deficiencies are more costly to the US today than ever before; and identifies a set of specific policy strategies capable of supporting the development of a modernized, efficient, and profitable domestic recycling system. The Article ultimately recommends a multi-faceted approach to improving the nation’s domestic recycling programs that could ultimately usher in a new era of sustainable and cost-justifiable US recycling.

Section I of this Article describes the history and development of US recycling programs, outlining how the nation became highly dependent on China to process much of its recyclable solid waste and how new Chinese solid waste importation restrictions have created solid waste disposal crises across the US. Section II highlights how major gaps and deficiencies in existing US recycling policies have hindered the development of adequate domestic recycling infrastructures and systems. Section III examines various policies and actions that private companies, municipalities, states, and the federal government are now considering or employing in efforts to address the nation’s recycling crisis. Section IV then proposes several specific strategies capable of finally promoting the development of a cost-effective and sustainable domestic recycling system.