New fund aims big for plastic recycling


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has awarded $254.5 million in brownfield grants to 265 communities. The grants are supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Actsays the EPA, with this bill providing $1.5 billion to “spur economic revitalization” in part by “cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties.”

Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings contaminated with asbestos or lead to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once handled hazardous chemicals, the agency explains. Once cleared, the former industrial wastelands are destined to be redeveloped.

“With today’s announcement, we are turning plague into power for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping turn contaminated and potentially hazardous sites into productive economic contributors.”

Sites on the project list include a former coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, set to become a 10-megawatt solar farm, and a former landfill in the Indian community of Fort Belknap in Montana also being developed. redevelopment to become a solar farm.

The 14-page list of EPA grant recipients shows that the majority are simply vaguely described as “community-wide” funding recipients. A few others, however, show a link to a former metal, paper or recycling industry site.

Millinocket, Maine is getting $850,000 to help dismantle and clean up a paper mill that operated there from 1899 to 2013. This mill produced newsprint and other grades of paper under a list of different ownership groups.

Also in Maine, a former auto salvage yard in Rockland will receive $500,000 in cleanup funding. The Shafter salvage business was operated by several generations of this family from 1914 to 2010.

A $500,000 grant is for the cleanup of the former Reliance Battery factory in Council Bluffs, Iowa. An environmental services company involved in the cleanup said that “the former Reliance battery factory in Council Bluffs was in operation from approximately 1928 to 2019. The property [was] used for the manufacture, repair and reconditioning of lead acid batteries.

The town of Peabody, Massachusetts is receiving $650,000 to address cleanup issues at a former Clark Steel Drum property. This company refurbishes and replates steel storage containers.

Local media describe the former Nearpara Rubber Co. plant in Hamilton, New Jersey as dealing with tires there for several decades. In 2001, after its closure, the Trentonian describes crews carrying some 80,000 “orphan tires”. Now, a $500,000 grant from the EPA will be used to continue cleaning up the site.

As Regan notes, a landfill or dump is among the areas targeted for a $500,000 grant to the Fort Belknap Indian community in Montana.

Since its inception in 1995, the EPA says its “brownfield investments have generated more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment,” creating “significant benefits for communities across the country.”

The list of 2022 scholarship holders is available here.

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