Contamination costs the U.S. recycling system more than $300 million every year and is especially costly to communities along the West Coast, according to The Recycling Partnership. To tackle this challenge, The Recycling Partnership, with support from Amazon, Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) and other funding partners, is launching the West Coast Contamination Initiative (WCCI).
In addition, The Recycling Partnership announced the Circular Economy Accelerator, a new initiative that will proactively drive policy solutions for stronger recycling and a robust circular economy in the United States.
WCCI’s goal is to increase the quality of recyclables collected at the curb in communities up and down the West Coast, which will help drive the circular economy, create a healthier environment and build stronger communities. To do this, the partnership said it will work with state and municipal leadership to develop tactics, best practices and tools available to communities from San Diego to Salem, Ore., to Seattle to recycle more and recycle better.
“California, Oregon and Washington have been hit hard by the current recycling market conditions,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, in a statement. “For the past five years, we have been developing, testing and refining best practices and tools to help states like Massachusetts and cities like Chicago and Atlanta not just weather but rise above challenges in the recycling marketplace. Thanks to support from Amazon, Keurig Dr Pepper and other funding partners, we are now going to invest $1 million to help the West Coast build a more sustainable recycling system that drives the circular economy.”
WCCI is one of several planned anti-contamination projects from The Recycling Partnership that will take place across the country.
“Today’s announcement marks another innovative collaboration between KDP and the partnership. Our longstanding relationship has resulted in tremendous strides at improving recycling across the U.S., and we are proud to be supporting this important work on the West Coast,” said Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer at Keurig Dr Pepper, in a statement. “We are excited to see more quality recyclables travel from the recycling bin back in to new products, creating a thriving economy coast to coast.”
“Amazon is committed to being part of the circular economy,” said Terese Kietzer, senior manager of Amazon Sustainability, in a statement. “The Recycling Partnership’s WCCI project provides better access to resources that help increase and expand local recycling programs in communities across the West Coast.”
The Circular Economy Accelerator will build consensus for attainable policy and legislative solutions at the state and federal level to secure sustainable funding, incentivize recycling over disposal and expedite public-private solutions for circular systems. The accelerator is launching with support from more than a dozen of the biggest brands, material companies and organizations committed to taking action to advance the circular economy.
“Consumers, businesses, and policymakers recognize that the U.S. recycling system is facing a critical inflection point—but we see it as an opportunity,” said Sarah Dearman, executive director of the Circular Economy Accelerator, in a statement. “By leveraging public-private solutions to drive sustainable investment in recycling infrastructure and implementing policies that incentivize recycling over disposal, we can put the U.S. on the path to a truly circular economy.”
For the last half-decade, The Recycling Partnership has partnered with more than a thousand communities, putting carts on the ground, working with recycling professionals from across the country to improve operations and get contamination out of the recycling system.
“America doesn’t have time to wait for a better recycling system. Current global market challenges pose serious headwinds to community recycling programs,” said Harrison in a statement. “The Circular Economy Accelerator will jump-start the critical conversations to advance the recycling system so that recyclable materials make it from citizens’ recycling bins back to store shelves as new products.”