The Recycling Partnership, a mission-driven NGO committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system, is announcing its 5-Point Plan to Fix Recycling in recognition of America Recycles Day. Since its inception in 2014, The Partnership has been taking on big challenges head-on, collaborating with the full spectrum of stakeholders to drive recycling system change.  

Recycling has the power to deliver a host of climate, economic, and waste management benefits, but today U.S. recycling is not performing at the scope and scale that it needs to achieve these benefits. 

Here are The Recycling Partnership’s 5 Ways to fix the U.S. recycling system:

1. Increase Access to Recycling Services

This will ensure everyone can recycle. Currently 40 million households (4 out of 10 in the U.S.) do not have that option – which means that we are making it too easy for people to simply throw away recyclables – these are valuable materials being lost to landfills. But we have been making a difference by placing over 1.3 million carts in communities since 2014.

2. Build Public Trust and Confidence

Our research shows that 70% of people believe recycling is confusing.  That is completely understandable because we do not have one single system in the U.S. we have a patchwork of 9,000 different community recycling programs, each with its own local requirements for what and how to recycle 

3. Insist companies Focus on Packaging

Products and packaging need to be designed for recycling to support a circular system. The Partnership work is helping to reduce how much materials are lost at recycling sorting facilities – saving over 375 million pounds to date. We have created material-specific recycling coalitions to support collaboration with producers to support their efforts to improve packaging including the PET, Polypropylene, and the Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalitions.

4. Improve, Advance, and Support Implementation of Recycling Policy at all Levels of Government

Good policy holds the entire value chain responsible for progress. We need  bi-partisan, smart, sensible state policy to improve and unify the residential recycling system and get it working efficiently. We work with government to develop policy solutions that will address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system and advance a circular economy that is accessible to all. 

5. Invest in the Future

Since its inception in 2014, $95 million has been invested in The Recycling Partnership; that has led to a $241 million value creation (including capital and state investment’s in recycling, value of new recyclables, and technical assistance to  cities and states). But to fix the system, we need to invest $17 billion. That might sound like a lot but to put it into context it represents 0.5% over five years of annual sales of the U.S. consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. The result of that investment will be A $30 billion return over 10 years. That’s a good investment – one we cannot afford not to make.

The Recycling Partnership plays a critical role of holding companies accountable and helping them to be part of the solution – it is a proven concept called insist and assist.’  It means that with big, complex global challenges like waste and recycling, the same groups who contribute to the challenge need to be contributors to the solution.”

Keefe Harrison, CEO at The Recycling Partnership.  

How to fix recycling

The 5-Point plan

Increase Access to

So that everyone
can recycle

Build Public Trust
and Confidence

Clear up confusion
and motivate participation

Insist Companies Focus
on Packaging

Products and packaging
need to be designed
for recycling

Improve & Support
Implementation of
Recycling Policy

Good policy holds
the entire value chain
responsible for progress

Invest in the Future

We need to invest $17 billion.
The result: a $30 billion return.
An investment we can't
afford not to make.