The importance of investing in recycling now
The Recycling Partnership – a nonprofit “action agent” that seeks to positively transform America’s residential recycling system – released a new report titled “Paying it Forward: Investment in Recycling will pay Dividends.”
In an introductory and accompanying article by Keefe Harrison, the CEO of The Recycling Partnership notes that “We are at a unique time when the public, policy makers and business leaders are all aligned with the need for a stronger and better system. ” In addition, this is a unique opportunity to make huge progress in recycling. Harrison points out that American recycling is not broken; “It’s just not on the scale we need.” Recycling, she reminds readers, “provides jobs and a greener supply chain for manufacturing, but because there has never been systematic or large-scale investment, it is fragmented by location. geographical area and type of material. ”
The parameters of the Recycling Partnership show, however, that “with hard work, the right tools and the right investments, together we can make meaningful change.” And it starts with providing equitable access and targeted, high-quality education. “Take advantage of this with an improved infrastructure to sort and process more types of packaging, and we’ll see accelerated progress like never before for each type of material.”
The report itself begins with an overview of the main findings of the Recycling Partnership and the supporting details on each, as below:
- The United States needs a global recycling investment of $ 17 billion over five years.
- Fully capitalized recycling infrastructure and education could double the national residential recycling rate, providing a better, cleaner supply of all recycled materials to the U.S. economy.
- Policy solutions must be developed with the collaboration of businesses, governments, NGOs and policy makers.
The report says now is the time to invest $ 17 billion, as data and other indicators show that:
- The public demands it
- Company engagement has never been higher
- Federal and state decision-makers on both sides are energetic
- The United States is already playing a leadership role on climate
But, to revive the American recycling system, he explains, three things must be provided:
- Recycling containers for every household that are on par with their garbage disposal, making recycling as easy as throwing something away.
- Education, awareness and behavior change strategies to reduce public confusion about what and how to recycle, dramatically improve consumer use of the recycling system and restore confidence in the recycling system.
- Sorting materials recovery facilities upgraded and upgraded to accommodate all packaging materials currently found in the home, including those not typically collected in residential programs, such as flexible films and plastics.
Ultimately, the report points out, recycling only works if everyone can participate and the collected materials can be handled efficiently. And, as of now, recycling is “not delivered evenly across the United States” with 40% of Americans not having fair recycling, along with the fact that “a lot of packaging currently found on the shelves stores cannot be recycled through residential programs.
But, The Recycling Partnership asks readers “to imagine a fully integrated US recycling system with full equitable access added for over 40 million underserved households.” Then imagine that the nation’s 120 million households fully understand what to recycle and when, in a way that’s right for them, while receiving personalized feedback to improve their recycling behavior. These households deliver 17 million new tonnes of recyclable materials each year to 375 renovated and 57 new MRFs. We avoid estimated landfill costs of $ 9.4 billion over the next ten years, preventing long-term environmental damage, creating an estimated value of $ 8.8 billion in new recyclables and supporting 200,000 jobs. This is her vision for the future, and what she hopes will happen if the recommendations in her report are implemented.
Recycling Partnership’s recommended $ 17 billion investment takes into account $ 11 billion needed for infrastructure improvements and $ 6 billion for investments in education over five years. Subsequently, an additional amount of approximately $ 1.2 billion would be required for the continuing education of residents. This investment would “have an immediate positive impact, including an economic benefit of $ 30.8 billion over 10 years (including wages, taxes, landfill savings and the value of recyclables).”
Other “significant environmental and financial benefits” would include:
- Savings of 710 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent
- Reduce average water consumption by 30 million people
- Save the equivalent of 129 million car emissions
- Avoiding an additional estimated $ 9.4 billion in landfill costs
- Creation of approximately $ 8.8 billion in new, high-quality recyclable products
The report delves into the data, the details of the investments it calls for, and the risks associated with inaction. He concludes that “the headwinds are important and, as we have seen in the last decades of attempted interventions, the American recycling system will not be resolved. The good news, however, is that there are proven solutions, the scale of the challenge is known, and it is all in our collective power to resolve through vastly expanded public-private partnerships and policy. robust that provides sustainable funding.