By Former Deputy Director for Energy Sally Benson, Principal Assistant Director for Energy Costa Samaras, and Policy Assistant Rachel Reolfi
In order to meet our climate goals, we must build an increasingly circular economy—an economy that keeps materials and products in circulation for as long as possible, rather than throwing them away. Both manufacturing new products and discarding used products lead to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that harm our health and the health of our planet.
That’s why President Biden is investing in America through the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build a more circular, clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient. In particular, these laws promote a circular economy by:
- Reducing pressure and constraints on supply chains by recirculating critical materials and products, including electric vehicle batteries and other key clean energy technologies;
- Supporting the Federal Buy Clean Initiative by developing new, clean ways to make and recycle essential materials such as steel and concrete, which form the building blocks of our infrastructure;
- Saving money by lengthening the lifecycle of individual products and materials;
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from wasted products and materials; and,
- Creating new American industries and good-paying jobs in battery manufacturing, critical minerals recycling, biomanufacturing, and other growing sectors.
To establish a circular economy, we need to drive even more innovation in technology, social science, business models, and policy. U.S. government agencies and national laboratories—in partnership with industry and academia—are conducting cutting-edge research on sustainable agriculture, next-generation industrial processes, barriers to a circular economy, tools to measure and track the ingredients that go into our products, and more.
The Biden-Harris Administration also made the circular industrial sector one of its priorities for the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative, which drives innovation in clean energy technologies.
At the end of June, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) convened experts and leaders from across the federal government to advance a whole-of-government strategy for the transition to a circular economy. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) also hosted a convening with 68 countries on Circular Economy and Zero Waste in Government Operations as part of the Greening Government Initiative (GGI). At this event, international experts highlighted opportunities for governments to lead by example and leverage circularity to help meet their climate commitments.
As we invest in and revitalize the American economy, we build on the principles and practices of circularity to strengthen our supply chains, create good-paying jobs in communities across the country, reduce the environmental impacts of industries, and make America more resilient and competitive.