At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City Sept. 24, 2012, Alcoa, the Alcoa Foundation and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) announced a national commitment to increase U.S. recycling rates, known as the Action to Accelerate Recycling.
According to the organizations, Action to Accelerate Recycling is designed to generate awareness, create incentives and provide recycling access and infrastructure to increase the domestic recycling of aluminum, plastic, glass and paper. The commitment, which includes $2 million in funding from Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation, is expected to engage millions of Americans and to increase the current U.S. recycling rate by 10 percent, they add.
The U.S. recycling rate lags the rest of the world, which has financial and environmental implications: millions of dollars spent on landfills and transporting waste; billions of dollars lost from residual value of scrap; and missed opportunities to create green jobs. A recent report from the Blue-Green Alliance found that increasing recycling rates in the United States to 75 percent for all municipal solid waste would create 1.5 million jobs. According to Alcoa, a 75 percent recycling rate would generate close to 300 additional tons of recycled content.
“For every can that is recycled, we save energy and money, reduce our environmental impact and create economic opportunities in U.S. communities,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa, based in New York City. “Our partnership with Keep America Beautiful is a ‘call to action’ for companies, consumers and community organizations to make recycling a priority. Together with our industry partners, we set and can achieve an ambitious yet achievable 75 percent aluminum can recycling rate by 2015 in the U.S.”
Matt McKenna, president and CEO of Stamford, Conn.-based KAB, said, “We are singularly focused on influencing people’s recycling behaviors at work, at home and at play through education, programs and awareness campaigns. One of our commitment’s key initiatives is the launch of a first-ever, multi-million-dollar national media campaign on recycling scheduled for early next year.”
Action to Accelerate Recycling includes the design and launch of global recycling programs designed to educate and activate people, incentivize behavior change, increase access to recycling bins and help parks, housing complexes and universities build an infrastructure to create and expand recycling programs.
The Action to Accelerate Recycling commitment includes these initiatives:
- Pass the Can – For every virtual can passed through the Facebook app, Alcoa Foundation will donate $1 (up to $75,000) to KAB, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Planet Ark to fund recycling programs around the world.
- Net Impact – Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge will reach 50 college campuses and incentivize students to take 50,000 small steps towards environmental action.
- DoSomething.org – The largest youth-led aluminum recycling drive in the United States.
- Tailgate Recycling Programs – The Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, Purdue University and Clemson University will create recycling programs encouraging fans to recycle in parking lots during football season.
- Pennsylvania Resources Council – The program will educate consumers about the recyclability of pet food cans and create a model for collecting cans that is designed to be easily replicated.
Keep America Beautiful Initiatives under Action to Accelerate include:
- Industry Pledge to Increase Recycling – Solicit industry to pledge a 10 percent increase in the recycling of aluminum, paper, plastic and glass in the workplace through variety of programs;
- Recycling Media Campaign – Multimedia campaign to reach 200 million people; and
- State Fairs Recycling Initiative – Provides recycling access and develops best practices in four to six underserved public venues with funding from Alcoa.