Boston-based Sappi North America, a producer and supplier of paper and packaging products, has become a funding partner of The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia. The national nonprofit uses corporate funding to improve recycling efforts in communities across the U.S.
The Recycling Partnership says less than half of recyclables in U.S. homes are getting captured for recycling; just 22 million tons out of an available 46 million tons are recycled every year. While the funding and management of recycling systems historically have fallen on the shoulders of cities and towns across the country, through The Recycling Partnership nearly 40 companies, including Sappi, are committing financial resources to work with the nonprofit and local governments to improve recycling.
Since 2015, The Recycling Partnership says it has invested more than $27 million in corporate funding toward recycling infrastructure.
“Sappi North America has been part of The Recycling Partnership through the Recycling Works in Publishing (RWIP),” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “We are grateful to have them now on board as a direct partner. The work Sappi has done throughout Maine and beyond with co-funding pedestrian recycling bins has been very successful. We look forward to working with their team on generating new ideas and partnerships to improve recycling in cities and towns across the United States.”
Laura Thompson, director of sustainable development and global policy initiatives, Sappi North America, says Sappi is committed to sustainability, particularly waste reduction and the best use of materials. “We’re excited to further this work by supporting The Recycling Partnership in its mission to transform recycling for good in the U.S.,” she says. “We are proud of the work that we have already completed with the Partnership over the years, and we are ready to make an even larger impact on recycling in our country moving forward.”
For the last two years, Thompson has served as the chair of RWIP. Last fall, Sappi worked with The Recycling Partnership to launch a recycling cart program in the city of Portland, Maine, increasing access to recycling for the city’s residents. The Portland project is helping to inform greater collaboration with the Ocean Conservancy and its Trash Free Seas initiative, a public awareness program designed to educate consumers and reduce pollution in the world’s oceans. Sappi also is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), and a supporter of ASTRX, a joint initiative between SPC and The Recycling Partnership, which aims to increase recycling by strengthening each element of the materials supply chain to create reliable and valuable manufacturing feedstock.
“The paper industry has very high recycling rates compared to other materials,” Thompson says. “Recent statistics show we are recovering over two-thirds of paper in circulation—but that means there are still nearly 20 million tons of paper-based materials that are not being recovered each year. Through efforts such as designing for recyclability to improving infrastructure, access and education, we can further improve our industry’s recycling efforts,” she says. “We see The Recycling Partnership as a key player in making this goal a reality, and we’re proud to help further its mission.”