Contamination costs the U.S. recycling system more than $300 million every year and is especially costly to communities along the West Coast. To tackle this crucial challenge, The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, with support from Amazon, Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) and other funding partners, is launching the West Coast Contamination Initiative (WCCI).
According to a news release from The Recycling Partnership, WCCI’s goal is to increase the quality of recyclables collected at the curb in communities up and down the West Coast, which will help drive the circular economy, create a healthier environment and build stronger communities. The partnership will work together with state and municipal leadership to develop tactics, best practices and tools available to communities—from San Diego all the way to Seattle—to recycle more and recycle better.
“California, Oregon and Washington have been hit hard by the current recycling market conditions,” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “For the past five years, we have been developing, testing and refining best practices and tools to help states like Massachusetts and cities like Chicago and Atlanta not just weather, but rise above challenges in the recycling marketplace. Thanks to support from Amazon, Keurig Dr Pepper and other funding partners we are now going to invest $1 million to help the West Coast build a more sustainable recycling system that drives the circular economy.”
While some residents put their recyclables in plastic bags in their recycling bins, others wish that certain things could be recycled—such as garden hoses, ropes, wires, plastic films and wraps, food, clothing, batteries or flammables—and mistakenly add those into their bins. Some of these items can damage equipment in recycling facilities and others can shut down a facility causing delays, both of which can be costly. WCCI is one of several planned anticontamination projects from The Recycling Partnership that will take place across the country.
“We’re excited to connect our knowledge, data and on-the-ground expertise with the expertise of West Coast states and community programs to fight contamination and develop a roadmap for success,” says Cody Marshall, chief community strategy officer at The Recycling Partnership. “We’re ready to dig in.”
The Recycling Partnership also has a free online contamination toolkit at https://recyclingpartnership.org/fight-contamination/ that any community in the U.S. can use to assess their current contamination needs and take next steps to start cleaning up their recycling stream.