Unique Public-Private Partnership to Modernize Baltimore’s Recycling Collection and Infrastructure

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The City of Baltimore announced today a groundbreaking collaboration brought together by The Recycling Partnership, with American Beverage’s Every Bottle Back initiative, Closed Loop Partners, Dow Packing & Specialty Plastics, the Baltimore Civic Fund, and Rehrig Pacific that will greatly expand Baltimore residents’ access to safe, effective recycling and improved collection infrastructure.

This innovative public-private partnership supports a $9.5 million project, consisting of a $3 million total investment from The Recycling Partnership, which includes $1.65 million from the beverage industry, a plastic resin donation for recycling carts from Dow Packing & Specialty Plastics, and lidded rollout carts manufactured by Rehrig Pacific, as well as a $3 million investment from Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund. This first of its kind collaboration will help Baltimore provide free recycling carts to 190,000 households to collect and process more recyclable materials, including beverage bottles and cans. As part of the effort, the city will launch a recycling education campaign to inform the community about the new carts and what can and cannot be recycled.

The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners have estimated that providing Baltimore households with modern recycling carts has the potential to generate an estimated 40 million new pounds of all recyclables per year – an 80% increase of recyclables per household in Baltimore. The program will also help collect and recycle nearly 30 million new pounds of plastic over 10 years, including 16 million new pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that might otherwise have gone to waste.

“The collaboration with The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners is essential for fostering a recycling culture in Baltimore,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “My administration is committed to implementing the City’s Less Waste, Better Baltimore Plan and building greener, healthier communities.”

Baltimore is the eighth-largest city in the United States without universal cart recycling access, a key driver in the city launching an ambitious zero-waste goal.

“Delivering free recycling carts to Baltimore City households will simply be a gamechanger for our waste diversion plan,” said Baltimore City Department of Public Works Acting Director Jason W. Mitchell. “By diverting waste from landfills, we not only decrease the workload on our routine services crews, who have been stellar throughout the pandemic, but we also lay the foundation to build a more sustainable and cleaner Baltimore for generations to come.” 

Providing residents with a free recycling cart is one of the key recommendations in the city’s Less Waste, Better Baltimore Plan, which has identified options for improving solid waste diversion, recycling, and disposal in the city. Previously, Baltimore households who participated in the city’s weekly recycling collections had to provide their own carts.

“With this investment in Baltimore, The Partnership’s largest cart grant to date, every curbside-eligible household in the city of Baltimore will receive educational materials and a recycling cart at no cost, making the city’s recycling services more equitable and accessible to all and improving the health and safety of sanitation workers while enabling the city to divert more waste from landfills and incinerators, supporting greater environmental justice,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “We’re excited to bring together this unique public-private partnership including American Beverage and the MD/DE/DC Beverage Association, Closed Loop Partners, Dow Packing & Specialty Plastics, Rehrig Pacific, and the city of Baltimore.” 

Launched in 2019 by American Beverage, Every Bottle Back is an unprecedented initiative to reduce the beverage industry’s plastic footprint by increasing the number of bottles that are collected and remade into new ones. Every Bottle Back brings together The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and PepsiCo with leading environmental and sustainability organizations – World Wildlife Fund, Closed Loop Partners, and The Recycling Partnership – to support the circular plastics economy.

“Local beverage bottlers and beverage distributors share the goal of keeping plastic out of the environment and we welcome this collaboration between the city, businesses, and sustainability groups to ensure recyclables are collected and remade into new products as intended,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president of the MD/DE/DC Beverage Association.

A move to larger-capacity, lidded recycling carts enables safer and more efficient collection, reducing the amount of manual labor needed, helping to prevent injury to collection staff while providing residents with increased storage capacity for their recyclables at the same time.

“Strong, cross-sector collaboration is critical to building resilient local recycling infrastructure that effectively keeps valuable materials in play. We are proud to be a part of this unprecedented partnership with The Recycling Partnership, American Beverage, Dow Packing & Specialty Plastics, Rehrig Pacific, and the City of Baltimore to catalyze social, environmental, and economic impact on the ground,” said Ron Gonen, CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “There is power in the collective, and public-private partnerships have proven to be a key component of advancing the circular economy in the United States.”

Since recycling carts are made from plastic resin, supplying these 205,000 recycling carts would not be possible without the generous donation of plastic resin from Dow Packing & Specialty Plastics or without the partnership with Rehrig Pacific.

“To build a true circular economy for plastic there must be a collaboration across a variety of companies and organizations,” said Diego Donoso, president, Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “The recent Paying It Forward report shows that 40% of Americans don’t have equitable recycling, and this project is a wonderful example of how collaborative solutions can accelerate closing that gap. I invite all industries to join forces with The Recycling Partnership to increase access to recycling of all materials across the United States.”  

Baltimore City will announce details regarding the distribution of recycling carts later this summer.

About The Recycling Partnership

The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 230 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 465 million gallons of water, avoided more than 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org

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