The concept of environmental justice (EJ), defined as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies,” is rapidly evolving across all levels of government. An example of how these efforts may impact the recycled materials industry is seen through the Justice40 initiative and its application to federal programs and loan opportunities.

What is Justice40? The Justice40 Initiative established by Executive Order 14008 – “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, mandates that at least 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments be directed to disadvantaged communities (DACs) that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution. In simpler terms, 40 percent of both direct and indirect investments, including associated program outcomes, must benefit DACs as identified by the White House’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. Programs which fall under Justice40 have requirements to meaningfully involve community stakeholders and report on the benefits directed to DACs. Benefits vary but may include:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, criteria air pollutants and toxic air pollutant exposure;
  • Reduction of exposure to certain transportation-related emissions;
  • Increased climate-smart training, including training to identify waste, efficiencies, and GHG inventories; and
  • Increased participation in good job training programs that target participation from disadvantaged communities, including formerly incarcerated individuals.

Where does the IRA Come into This? The $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which has been hailed as the “single largest investment in climate and clean energy in American history,” has over 70 programs totaling $118 billion whose funding recipients must abide by Justice40 requirements. This is noteworthy, especially as most tax credits and rebates contained in the law are exempt from those requirements. Potential IRA funding opportunities for the recycled materials industry that have Justice40 requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM): Expanded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and further bolstered by the IRA, ATVM provides loans to support the manufacture of eligible advanced technology vehicles and qualifying components. This includes lithium-ion battery resource recovery facilities and other projects which aimed at developing a U.S. critical minerals supply chain.
  • Industrial Demonstrations Program: This projects funds initiatives in the highest emitting and hardest to abate industries where decarbonization technologies can have the greatest impact. Associated industries include iron and steel, cement and concrete, chemicals and refining, paper and forest products, aluminum, and more.

ISRI offers various tools and resources on environmental justice so that you and your company can continue to build and maintain healthy neighbors and communities. The ISRI environmental justice resource page is ever-growing and provides tools from ISRI and the EPA, sample op-ed articles, the latest industry news on EJ, talking points and more. For more information, please contact ISRI Staff, Kristen Hildreth at khildreth@isri.org.

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno is a Communications Manager at ISRI. He is fascinated by the innovation and sustainability found in the recycling industry. He graduated from The Catholic University of America where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Spanish. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his collection of short stories he hopes to one day finish writing.