The Recycling Partnership, a mission-driven NGO committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system, is announcing its 5-Point Plan to fix recycling in recognition of America Recycles Day, November 15, 2022. Since its inception in 2014, The Recycling Partnership has been addressing big challenges head-on, collaborating with the full spectrum of stakeholders to drive recycling system change.
“The public understands that recycling is a critical way to conserve natural resources and reduce waste. But they want a better U.S. recycling system – one that not only makes more things recyclable, but is also easy to use and understand.” said Keefe Harrison, CEO at The Recycling Partnership. “That’s why this America Recycles Day we call on all stakeholders involved in recycling to commit.”
Recycling has the power to deliver a host of climate, economic, and waste management benefits – 80% of Americans believe in the positive impact of recycling. But today U.S. recycling is not performing at the scope and scale that it needs to in order to achieve these benefits. Here is The Recycling Partnership’s 5-Point Plan to fix the U.S. recycling system:
- Ensure All Households Can Recycle – 40 million U.S. households still lack the ability to recycle at home. Building equitable access to recycling services is the first critical step to a stronger system. Since 2014, The Recycling Partnership has delivered more than 1.3 million recycling carts to families all across the country.
- Help the Public Understand What’s Recyclable in Their Town – Our research shows that 60% of people believe recycling is confusing. That is completely understandable because we do not have one single system in the U.S.; we have a patchwork of 9,000 different community recycling programs, each with its own local requirements for what and how to recycle. That’s why we have developed a suite of open-source tools and resources to make it easier for people to know what and how to recycle in their town, including our recycling chat-bot that lets you know, for example, if your yogurt cup is recyclable in your community.
- Make Packaging Recyclable – We believe in a future where all packaging is circular (meaning all packaging can be reused, composted, or recycled) – that will eliminate the guess work of recycling. To achieve this goal we are providing companies with solutions to help them design circular packaging approaches (e.g. Circular Packaging Assessment Tool, Plastic IQ). We are also driving to make a wider range of packaging types recyclable. Through grants and technical assistance, our work will increasingly enable people to recycle items they once could not (e.g. as of July, polypropylene, also known as plastic #5, is accepted for recycling in more communities across the U.S).
- Support Policy to Help Pay for a Better Recycling System – Cash-strapped communities cannot afford to be the only source of funding for a better recycling system. We need smart policy that requires private-public partnerships, so that companies help to pay for a better recycling system . We work with government at all levels to develop policy solutions that will accelerate progress.
- Invest in the Future – We need a $17 billion investment over 5 years to deliver the benefits of recycling to the public. That might sound like a lot, but to put it into context it represents 0.5% of annual sales of the U.S. consumer packaged goods industry over 5 years. And with smart policy, that investment will come from private-public partnerships. The return on that investment is $30 billion over 10 years. That’s a good investment – one we cannot afford not to make.
“The steps are clear,” said Harrison. “We know how to provide the public with an accessible, easy-to-use, and fully modernized recycling system. All we need now is for companies, communities, government, and all other recycling stakeholders to take action so that we can make the plan a reality.”
At The Recycling Partnership, we are solving for circularity. As a mission-driven NGO, we are committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system. We mobilize people, data, and solutions across the value chain to reduce waste and our impact on the environment while also unlocking economic benefits. We work on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs; we partner with companies to achieve packaging circularity, increase access to recycled materials, and meet sustainability commitments; and we work with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system and advance a circular economy. We foster public-private partnerships and drive positive change at every step of the recycling and circularity process. Since 2014, we have diverted 770 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 670,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and driven significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.