The Recycling Partnership, PepsiCo Raise $25M for U.S. Recycling

The Recycling Partnership Twitter Recycling Partnership, PepsiCo Raise $25M for U.S. Recycling

The PepsiCo Foundation and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership announced that their “All In On Recycling” challenge has successfully raised $25 million in a little more than a year since it launched in July 2018.

The challenge seeks to make recycling easier for more than 25 million U.S. families and support a circular economy with investments in infrastructure and education. Currently, due to a lack of infrastructure, widely varying municipal recycling programs and low awareness of proper recycling practices, more than half of the materials that could be recycled from U.S. households are lost.

Funds raised from the challenge are helping cities invest in new infrastructure, like curbside carts, which are a proven way to double the number of recyclables recovered. The Recycling Partnership has found that in some places only one of every four aluminum cans and one out of every three water bottles ends up in a recycling bin. In comparison, the total amount of materials collected from a single home can increase as much as 120 pounds per year with a switch from a small bin to a larger cart, according to The Recycling Partnership.

Funding also is supporting education programs to teach residents what can and cannot be recycled. Education can help prevent residents from wishcycling—tossing items that seem recyclable in with their household recycling, which can damage recycling machines and contaminate other recyclables.

“When The Recycling Partnership and PepsiCo launched this challenge a year ago, we recognized the need for significant collective action to improve recycling in the U.S., and we are pleased to see our partners and peers step up and lend support to this effort,” said Simon Lowden, chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, in a statement. “However, this is only the beginning, and we must continue to work together to create the scale of change needed to strengthen our recycling system. This is critical to reduce waste that ends up in our oceans and environments, to meet the growing demand for recycled content that powers the circular economy and support a more sustainable future.”

Over the past year, through the All In On Recycling challenge, The Recycling Partnership has made investments to improve recycling programs in Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas and New Jersey and will expand to North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee and others in the next year. To date, nearly 115,000 carts have been distributed or are in the process of going to households across the country as a result of this effort—significant progress toward the challenge’s five-year goal to distribute carts to more than 550,000 households. The new carts are expected to capture 55 million pounds of new recyclables per year. Additionally, it’s estimated that the efforts to help Americans recycle more and recycle better will reach more than 19 million households within the next year.

“Developing a sustainable recycling system is critical to the future of our planet. The ‘All In On Recycling’ challenge gives us the opportunity to come together as communities, regions and states, global corporations and as individuals to change our path toward a healthier future,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, in a statement. “A circular economy where global brands can partner with nonprofits to invest in community infrastructure to better capture recyclables, educate residents on what to recycle and where and bring all stakeholders together in partnership is one that everyone should get behind. After all, we’re all in this bin together.”

One area that has benefitted from the investment is Central Ohio, where The Recycling Partnership, working with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, distributed 38,000 carts to five communities—Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Bexley, Blendon Township and Westerville—earlier this year. These households were upgraded from 18-gallon bins to 65-gallon carts, which not only can collect more materials, are easier for residents to take the curb and can be more efficiently collected, but they also reduce litter because their lidded tops prevent materials from flying out. Officials are now performing a “capture rate” study, with results anticipated in November, on the materials collected from these carts to identify areas for increased recycling education and opportunities for improvement.

“As a founding partner of The Recycling Partnership, Alcoa Foundation has always believed in The Partnership's mission to transform recycling for good," said Rosa García Pineiro, vice president of sustainability and president of Alcoa Foundation, in a statement. "We're proud to support the ‘All In On Recycling’ challenge, which calls on leading companies to join PepsiCo, Alcoa and others to help The Recycling Partnership drive change and make it easier for 25 million families across the country to recycle more and recycle better.”

Announced in July 2018, the challenge was kickstarted with an initial $10 million in funding from The PepsiCo Foundation. Over the past year, $15 million in support has been raised from major businesses, companies and organizations across a wide variety of industries, including Alcoa Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive and Target. In addition to these contributions, more than 2,800 communities are expected to participate in the initiative, which will triple the collective investment, catalyzing roughly $75 million in municipal funding and bringing the total amount of support to $100 million. Currently, more than $12 million in municipal funding has been invested in U.S. recycling as a result of the challenge with more in the pipeline.

The Recycling Partnership estimates this challenge will ultimately result in a total greenhouse gas avoidance of 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, which equates to the removal of more than 1 million cars from the road for a year. The projected 1.9 million tons of quality recyclable materials, including 7 billion bottles and cans, will make this possible. 

Restaurants Prioritize Food Waste Prevention

Getty Images Restaurants Prioritize Food Waste Prevention

Food waste reduction is on a growing number of foodservice businesses’ radar. In a 2019 National Restaurant Association survey, half of responding restaurant operators said they track their food waste; 22 percent said they donate edible leftovers to charity; and 14 percent compost some of their leftovers.

Chefs, in particular, are buying into sustainability concepts; some plan menus around priorities like sourcing locally and finding creative uses for what would otherwise be tossed. In fact, zero waste cooking was number three of 140-plus trends of interest to chefs, according to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Forecast.

Drexel University in Philadelphia is working to expand the zero waste culture with plans to develop a culinary curriculum to increase instructors’ awareness of how chefs can further support food rescue.

Foodservice businesses—and not just their chefs—could go further with more education, which is a main reason that the Food Waste Reduction Alliance evolved, joining the Consumer Brands Association (formerly Grocery Manufacturers Association), the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association. The alliance educates members of all three groups through a platform to share food waste reduction practices and other resources, including restaurant foodservice and grocery action guides that the industry developed with Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). 

Justin Sullivan/GettyImagesA worker moves a pallet of food onto a rack at the San Francisco Food Bank .

Restaurants are inquiring about food donation.

“They are eager to get information on this and want to donate food. But they are often hesitant because they have liability concerns,” says Laura Abshire, director of food and sustainability policy for the National Restaurant Association. “The Good Samaritan law is broad; they have questions around what it means. We are working to educate them, so they know that this law does protect them, and so they see that they can reduce resources, help protect the environment and help their communities with donations.”

Donations add up, whether from scores of small mom-and-pop shops or a single, large corporation. In the U.S., through its partnership with Food Donation Connection, McDonald’s has donated more than 825,900 pounds of food to charities since September 2019, says a McDonald’s spokesperson. That’s up from 448,000 pounds reported as of May 2018.

Taco Time Northwest, with 79 quick service restaurants, has focused its food waste management practices largely on composting.

“We looked at donating to a shelter, but we plan well for each day, so we have little left. Plus, our locations are so spaced out, so pickups were not feasible for the shelter for the amount of leftovers we had. That’s why we focused on compost—so food waste ends up in someone’s garden,” says Wes Benson, Taco Time Northwest’s franchise affairs and sustainability manager.  

Today, despite shifting from a three-bin system to a one-bin system, the company manages to compost all its waste. With three bins, contamination was a big problem. Not everyone read the signs and sorted correctly, so nine of 10 compostable bags ended up in the trash.

So, Taco Time removed sorting from the equation. It replaced the blue, green and black bins with only compost bins. And it bought all compostable serving materials.

“Then, all the struggles we had earlier disappeared. By making sure every item customers touch is compostable, and by only providing one bin type, they can’t make a mistake. All food and packaging waste gets composted,” says Benson.

Getty ImagesRestaurants Prioritize Food Waste Prevention

 

Chipotle is another chain that has made public its composting priorities, announcing it plans to increase composting at its restaurants by 20 percent by 2020. Additionally, the company is shooting to divert half of all its restaurant waste by that same year.

Businesses are looking for approaches that work for their particular business model, whether it's a quick service shop where there is minimal or no table service; a full-service chain with waitstaff and broader menus; or contractors who run kitchens for institutions and other businesses.

Each has its own challenges and advantages. Quick service often runs lean, with more front of house waste. Full-service restaurants typically deal more with both front and back of house waste. Contract foodservice businesses can be front and back of house, but they tend to be further ahead of most others in their sustainability practices because many contracts require it, explains Jeffrey Clark, sustainability and nutrition manager for the National Restaurant Association.

Regardless of their business model or circumstances, “Foodservice operations are very busy, and it’s a competitive industry, so they are interested in any fairly small win where they can make a difference. And they are interested in what they can do to make small adjustments,” says Clark.

It may be empowering staff to do more recycling, investing in inventory-tracking software or exploring a donation program.

In the long term, restaurants that prioritize cutting waste feel it in their bottom line. They save about $7 in operating costs for every $1 invested in food waste reduction, according to a 2019 Champions 12.3 report.

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

This week, waste and recycling industry leaders gathered together in Orlando, Fla., to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF). Over the last 25 years, EREF has funded valuable research with the goal of improving waste management practices and informing policymakers, making EREF one of the largest sources of solid waste funding in North America.

“We’re celebrating 25 years of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation. I have been honored to be part of the EREF family for 15 of those years, and over that time, I’ve been able to see firsthand the contributions EREF has made in the solid waste field to fund research that increases efficiency, mitigates risk, aggregates important industry data and helps solve the problems of our day,” said Bryan Staley, president and CEO of EREF, during the 25th Anniversary Celebration.

“Beyond research, EREF’s commitment to education is unparallel, and majority of the scholars and students we’ve supported have gone on to work in this industry,” he added. “Collectively, EREF scholars, research assistants and grant recipients have done great things, and these accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of this industry.”

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

It was astounding to see the turnout and support of the industry at EREF’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, Staley told Waste360Clearly, the industry recognizes the vital role that EREF plays in providing sound data and credible research that helps to mitigate risk, reduce cost and improve management practices.

During the 25th Anniversary Celebration, leaders from Advanced Disposal, Republic Services, Waste Connections and Waste Management discussed the value of philanthropy and how their companies support EREF.

Here’s a roundup of what the leaders had to say:

Richard Burke, CEO of Advanced Disposal

Why does Advanced Disposal value philanthropy?

Advanced Disposal works in more than 125 communities servicing more than 800 municipal contracts, and we believe that giving back to the communities we serve is core to our values as an organization. Advanced Disposal supports groups whose mission is focused on improving the environment, educating children and improving the quality of life for veterans. We keep those donations at the local level where we believe the most good can come from our contributions. 

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

Why does Advanced Disposal support EREF?

I don’t think EREF is charity. Personally, as a CEO or a leader in the waste industry, I think [EREF] is a strategic investment. We’re investing in the future of our business. It’s not charity; it’s truly an investment that we’re making into some of the most important assets within our company.

Simply put, EREF is about science, education, real data and scholarships, and its mission completely dovetails into our business … When we look to the future of EREF, I think the first 25 years have been important—we set a great footprint and a great start. But the next 25 years could be even more important than the first.

Good science and research will be essential to help our industry tackle challenges, climate change, PFAS [per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances] and continued challenges around leachate treatment and gas management. EREF serves our industry well, and it’s a smart investment now and even a greater investment in the future.

Jon Vander Ark, president of Republic Services

Why does Republic Services value philanthropy?

Republic Services strives to be a good neighbor and doing so goes far beyond delivering superior customer service and environmental compliance. It requires a commitment to the vitality of the entire community. Through partnerships with local nonprofits, Republic Services is committed to making a meaningful and sustainable impact in the neighborhoods where our employees and customers live and work.

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

Why does Republic Services support EREF?

We're proud to support EREF—an organization that shares our passion for preserving and protecting the environment. Through research and educational initiatives, EREF is helping companies like Republic Services do our part to leave our planet better than we found it. 

Charitable giving has become a big part of what we do. A couple years ago, we started looking at how we spend our money, time and efforts, and we decided that neighborhood revitalization was where we want to spend our time, effort and energy because neighborhoods are where we work, operate and live.

We started a charitable foundation, and we’ve done community grants and activated our employees to get involved. We’ve given away about 26 big neighborhood revitalization projects in the last 18 months and 1,300 community grants.

In some ways, we’re better together, and I think that’s where EREF plays a big role for us.

Worthing Jackman, president and CEO of Waste Connections

Why does Waste Connections value philanthropy?

Waste Connections and its employees support more than a thousand organizations through direct contributions, volunteering or fundraising. We host a golf charity event that now raises more than $1 million each year for donations to charities that support at-risk youth and their families. In addition, each year culminates with a Christmas bike-build where employees and their families and friends assemble thousands of bicycles companywide to donate to local charities, first responders and military bases for distribution to deserving youth. 

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

Why does Waste Connections support EREF?

Waste Connections aligns its major financial contributions with its goal to further advance environmental sustainability, such as its first major grant that helped establish the Global Waste Research Institute and its multiyear commitments to EREF. EREF’s research and education initiatives help enable participant companies to become better stewards of the environment and further benefit the communities we serve.

We all do a wonderful job as companies supporting our employees and supporting many charitable organizations throughout our network, but I don’t think we as an industry do enough to support EREF … There’s no other source for fact-based battles than EREF, and when the going gets tough, we need the facts to engage in these debates.

Tara Hemmer, senior vice president of field operations at Waste Management, Inc.

Why does Waste Management value philanthropy?

As the original ambassadors to Main Street and your street, Waste Management has the privilege and responsibility to help make our communities better places to work and live—today and for the future. Our philanthropic focuses are connected to our sustainability goals of increasing and improving recycling, producing renewable energy, reducing emissions and preserving wildlife habitats. And, of course, we’re the title sponsor of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which contributes more than $12 million each year to charities throughout Arizona and across the U.S.

Industry Leaders Discuss Charity’s Role in the Waste Industry

Why does Waste Management support EREF?

We partner with EREF because they share in our vision of always working for a sustainable tomorrow, and we believe that vision will only be realized through investments in research and education. Building a pool of talent through the scholarships offered by EREF will help drive continued change and innovation in our industry.

As a new board member at EREF, it’s been really interesting to have the marriage of history versus the new vision. When I think about what’s happening in our industry and in the company of Waste Management, I really think it goes back to communities, environmental stewardship and the goal we all share of making the planet a better place to live.

The challenges that the industry faces are continuing, and we really need to think about the future of our solid waste collection and infrastructure and the funding to support these roles. We also need to think about scholarships, which are so important when it comes to attracting the newest level of individuals who are going to come in and do the good work that we need people to do each and every day. We have to attract the talent that we need into this industry moving forward.

Innovative Recycling Apps Offer Education and Assistance

The number of smartphone users in the U.S. is estimated to reach 265.9 million in 2019, according to Statista.com. This number has risen steadily over the last several years and forecasts estimate that it will continue to rise steadily into the future.

With the rise in mobile usage comes an increase in the number of applications available to smartphone users. From car services to food delivery, there seems to be an app for everything. Even in the waste and recycling world, there are many apps that perform various services like identifying recycling bins, educating on waste and recycling practices, informing any collection changes, among other things.

In this gallery, Waste360 highlights five innovative recycling apps that are educating and assisting people and the industry in reducing their carbon footprints and the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

EPA Issues Supplemental Proposal for Renewable Fuels Volumes

EPA Issues Supplemental Proposal for Renewable Fuels Volumes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on October 15 seeking additional comment on the recently proposed rule to establish the cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

The latest notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into their fuel or to otherwise obtain renewable identification numbers to demonstrate compliance.

Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the Department of Energy (DOE), including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions. The agency intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when adjudicating 2020 exemption petitions. The agency proposes to use this value to adjust the way renewable fuel percentages are calculated. The proposed adjustments would help ensure that the industry blends the final volumes of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel supply and that, in practice, the required volumes are not effectively reduced by future hardship exemptions for small refineries.

The supplemental notice seeks to balance the goal of the RFS of maximizing the use of renewables while following the law and sound process to provide relief to small refineries that demonstrate the need.

EPA will hold a public hearing on October 30, followed by a 30-day comment period from the date of the hearing to receive public input on these issues. The agency will finalize this action later this year.

Need to Know

FCC Initiates Millerhill Energy Recycling and Recovery Centre

FCC Initiates Millerhill Energy Recycling and Recovery Centre

The Millerhill, Midlothian Energy Recycling and Recovery Centre (RERC), near Edinburgh, Scotland, had its official inauguration in September. The Millerhill RERC has involved an investment of £142 million and has been developed by FCC Environment together with the councils of Edinburgh and Midlothian, through a contract to design, finance, build and manage the plant for a period of 25 years.

The facility is set to help both councils meet the goals of the Scottish Zero Waste government in 2025 by diverting 155,000 tonnes of waste—135,000 tonnes of household residual waste with a further 20,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste—from landfill each year. The treated waste will generate clean electricity to power 32,000 households and businesses across the region.

Construction began in October 2016 with the engineering, procurement and construction role delivered through a joint venture between FCC Environment, FCC Medio Ambiente SA and Hitachi Zosen Inova. The plant has been receiving residual waste for commissioning purposes since October 2018, beginning operation in April 2019.

The official opening event for the site brought the Partner Councils, FCC Environment and other key stakeholders together to celebrate the occasion.

“We are thrilled to join our Partner Councils to mark the official opening of the Millerhill RERC today,” said FCC Environment CEO Paul Taylor in a statement. “The facility will not only divert the large amount of waste ending up in landfill but will also generate crucial energy for local communities. This important step will benefit both councils as well as the businesses and families in the area, not to mention the environmental-friendly benefits it will deliver to Midlothian’s landscape.”

Need to Know

Lexington, Ky., Tests Paper Recycling Pilot

Lexington, Ky., Tests Paper Recycling Pilot

The mayor of Lexington, Ky., just announced a new pilot program to help save paper recycling in the city.

City employees will kick off the new program by separating clean paper and dropping it in special bins in order to boost paper recycling. The city had been unable to find an end market for its recovered paper because the material collected was too contaminated—wet, covered in leftover food or entangled in other items.

If the new paper collection and separation pilot works among city employees, it will expand throughout the entire community. In the meantime, the city’s recycling center is urging people to recycle properly by placing only acceptable items in the bin.

LEX 18 has more details:

Reuse, recycle, repurpose. We're constantly being encouraged to do the little things to keep our city clean and keep as much as we can out of the landfill. The city of Lexington announced a new pilot program for the recycling center on Tuesday.

But for months, we've been told the opposite when it comes to paper. But Tuesday, Mayor Linda Gorton announced a pilot program that might save paper recycling for the city.

Back in May, it became clear nobody wanted our paper. The city couldn't find a company taking recycled paper. So, we were told to send it on to the landfill with all the other garbage.

Read the full story here.

Need to Know

Hawaii Commission Votes to Close Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in 2028

Hawaii Commission Votes to Close Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in 2028

The state of Hawaii’s Land Use Commission recently decided to close Honolulu County’s Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in 2028. Commissioners approved a special use permit allowing the solid waste landfill to operate in the meantime.

Now, city and county of Honolulu officials are weighing their options. According to a report from Hawaii Public Radio, the city of Honolulu’s environmental services director disagrees with the decision to close the landfill by 2028 because that “deadline will mean closing it well before it reaches capacity.”

Officials also discussed potential options the city has if it decides to keep the landfill open beyond the 2028 date.

Hawaii Public Radio has more information:

The state Land Use Commission last week gave the City and County of Honolulu until March 2, 2028 to close Waimanalo Gulch Landfill when the panel approved a special use permit allowing the solid waste facility to operate for now.

City Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina responded to the decision in a statement Friday, saying that officials “will weigh our options going forward.”

If the city were to comply with the commission’s deadline, it would need to begin searching for another site.

Read the full article here.

Need to Know

Putnam, Conn., Commission Denies Wheelabrator Landfill Expansion

Putnam, Conn., Commission Denies Wheelabrator Landfill Expansion

The Putnam, Conn., Inland Wetland Commission recently denied Wheelabrator Technologies’ application for its landfill expansion.

Norwich Bulletin reports that since the commission “dismissed [the application] without prejudice,” Wheelabrator can resubmit its expansion application. According to the report, commissioners claimed they did not have all the information needed on how Wheelabrator will mitigate the impact its expansion would have on local wetlands.

Norwich Bulletin has more:

The Putnam Inland Wetland Commission dismissed Wheelabrator Technologies’ application for the expansion of its landfill on a 2-1 vote Wednesday night.

The commission dismissed without prejudice, which allows Wheelabrator to re-apply. Commission member Theodore Altmeier led the charge to dismiss, saying the commission did not have “100 percent” of the information it needed on how Wheelabrator will mitigate the impact its expansion would have on local wetlands. Commission member Robert Greene also voted to dismiss.

Chairman Bruce Fitzback was the sole dissenting vote. Fitzback said he believed the issue could have been handled through a conditional approval.

Read the full story here.

Need to Know

Minnesota Supreme Court: St. Paul’s Existing Trash Contract Must Be Paid

St Paul Public Works ‏Twitter Minnesota Supreme Court: St. Paul’s Existing Trash Contract Must Be Paid

Minnesota’s Supreme Court ruled on October 16 that even if St. Paul residents vote against a single hauler waste collection system, the city’s existing five-year, $27 million contract with haulers must be paid in full.

The court had already ruled that residents will have the right to vote on their waste collection system of preference but had not clarified if voting against the single hauler system would void the already established contract with haulers, according to a KARE 11 report.

The contract was signed November 2017 and gave haulers specific areas of the city where they would provide waste collection services. Prior to implementing the single hauler system, residents could choose their own haulers and negotiate rates.

The vote on the city's organized trash collection program, which is expected in three weeks, comes as more than 25 candidates for City Council are running across the seven wards. If voters repeal the ordinance St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said the $27.1 million cost of the project will shift from rate payers to all property tax payers in the city, resulting in a 17.4 percent increase in the city’s property tax levy. However, according to a FOX 9 report, residents say there are other ways the city can pay the contract, such as using the force majeure clause to force the haulers and the city into negotiations.

The issue will go up for vote on November 5.

KARE 11 has more:

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that even if St. Paul voters vote against the city's waste collection system, a five-year contract with haulers will have to paid out.

The Supreme Court explained its reasoning, saying "the city is contractually obligated to allow St. Paul Haulers the exclusive right to provide waste collection services. The outcome of a referendum on an ordinance that establishes waste collection will not terminate the contract and does not rise to the level of a constitutional impairment of a contractual obligation."

Put simply, even if residents vote out the city's single-hauler system, the existing five-year, $27 million contract will have to be paid in full.

Read the full article here.

KSTP ABC 5 has more:

People in St. Paul will vote in three weeks on the city's organized trash collection program. Every city council seat is also up.

There are more than 25 candidates running across the seven wards. In the Ward 3, the trash collection issue is in the spotlight.

Incumbent Chris Tolbert faces Patty Hartmann, who fought to get the organized trash program on the ballot.

Read the full article here.