U.S. firms generate 7.6 billion tons of non-hazardous solid waste each year. The traditional subtractive manufacturing process can waste up to 90 percent of the original material. Solid waste is costly to dispose of and recycle; state agencies spend upwards of tens of millions of dollars annually on industrial material disposal and recycling. To decrease costly waste, states could provide incentives for the use of waste-minimizing technologies or mandate a waste reduction target for the manufacturing sector.
States could create a tax incentive for waste-reducing machinery modeled on policies such as the Air Quality Improvement Tax Incentive, which some states have to exempt qualified technologies and businesses from the property tax, corporate franchise tax, and sales and use tax. These incentives arguably encourage the use of technologies to reduce harmful pollutants before they are emitted into the atmosphere. Similarly designed incentives could focus on reducing material waste before the manufacturing process begins. States could also consider a mandate, which may be under the authority of the state’s executive branch per the state solid waste management plan, to reduce industrial waste by a set percentage of 2015 levels within an achievable timeline. A broader waste reduction mandate would require legislation. Upstream approaches to reduce waste would lower waste disposal and recycling costs for states, while also stimulating advanced technologies like additive manufacturing.