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Nation’s Largest Project to Modernize Recycling Collection Launched in Baltimore

Funded by a groundbreaking public-private partnership, the project advances safer, more efficient, and equitable recycling access for nearly 200,000 Baltimore households

BALTIMORE (Sept. 30, 2021) – The City of Baltimore today launched delivery of nearly 200,000 curbside recycling carts, a $10 million-plus project estimated to increase recycling output per household by 80% and generate as much as 40 million pounds of new recyclables each year. The initiative to bring equitable curbside recycling access to the City’s 609,000 residents was made possible by a groundbreaking collaboration brought together by The Recycling Partnership, with the American Beverage Association’s Every Bottle Back initiative, Closed Loop Partners, Dow, the Baltimore Civic Fund, and Rehrig Pacific. 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), commonly found in beverage bottles, that might otherwise have gone to waste.

This innovative public-private partnership includes a $3.6 million investment from The Recycling Partnership, consisting of $1.65 million from the beverage industry, a plastic resin donation for recycling carts from Dow, and large, lidded rollout recycling carts manufactured by Rehrig Pacific. This is bolstered by a $3 million investment from Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund, which finances projects that grow and strengthen recycling and circular economy infrastructure in the United States. This first of its kind collaboration will help Baltimore provide free, larger recycling carts to nearly 200,000 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 public about the new recycling carts and what can and cannot be recycled.

“Making Baltimore more sustainable through diverting waste from our landfills and incineration is key as we lay the groundwork for future generations,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “By providing our residents with the proper resources and education thanks to this partnership, I know that more Baltimore households will do their part to reduce waste and recycle.”

“This unique public-private partnership has culminated in The Recycling Partnership’s largest recycling grant to date, providing an innovative solution that will meaningfully increase recycling rates and serve as a model for other cities” said Cody Marshall, Chief of Community Strategy at The Recycling Partnership. “Cart-based recycling collection is a foundational element to any community’s recycling and sustainability program. Providing curbside recycling carts to all households makes waste diversion convenient for all while streamlining program operations – the definition of resiliency and sustainability.”

“The beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiative seeks to achieve a truly circular economy for our 100% recyclable bottles through innovative public-private partnerships that improve recycling infrastructure and education in key regions of the country,” said Katherine Lugar, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association.  “Our collaboration in Baltimore ensures equitable access to recycling and that valuable materials, like our beverage bottles, are collected and remade into new bottles as intended keeping plastic out of the environment.”

Launched in 2019 by the American Beverage Association, Every Bottle Back is an unprecedented initiative to reduce the beverage industry’s plastic footprint by increasing the number of bottles 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.

“This marks a significant milestone in our collective work with the City of Baltimore and other key stakeholders ––proving what is made possible through meaningful collaboration. Strengthening the City’s local recycling system lays the groundwork for improved recycling rates, and ultimately, reduces the amount of valuable materials going to landfill or into nature,” says Ron Gonen, Founder & CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “We are proud to be a part of this groudbreaking partnership, and look forward to our continued work to advance more resilient and accessible recycling infrastructure across the United States.”

The City’s transition to automated recycling collection, a process that does not require collection staff to leave the truck’s cab, with larger, lidded recycling carts enables safer and more efficient collection, reduces the amount of manual labor needed, helps to prevent injury to collection staff, and ensures continuity of service during labor shortages, while minimizing waste in waterways and providing residents with increased storage capacity for their recyclables at the same time.

Baltimore’s Department of Public Works has called it a game-changer for the City’s waste diversion plan and the foundation for a brighter, cleaner Baltimore for generations to come. The delivery of free recycling carts is one of the key recommendations in the city’s Less Waste, Better Baltimore Planwhich identified options for improving solid waste diversion, recycling, and disposal.

“The Department of Public Works is excited to support this new initiative to increase recycling and waste diversion in Baltimore City,” said Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Jason W. Mitchell. “We are grateful for the Mayor’s vision of a cleaner and more equitable Baltimore and the collaboration between Baltimore Civic Fund, The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners to make this a reality for the residents of our city. Essential to this critical partnership is the education component, which provides residents with helpful tips on proper recycling.”

As the new recycling carts are made from plastic resin, the roll-out of recycling carts to all Baltimore households would not have been possible without the generous donation of plastic resin from Dow or cart production by Rehrig Pacific, contributions that reduced the city’s infrastructure investment needs.

The Recycling Partnership’s recent Paying It Forward report shows that 40% of Americans don’t have equitable access to recycling and this project’s collaborative solution accelerates closing that gap for the eighth-largest city in the United States without universal cart recycling access, a key driver in the city launching its ambitious zero-waste goal.

“This collaboration will be a critical step in creating a more sustainable and circular community in Baltimore,” said Diego Donoso, president, Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “I hope this project is just the beginning of future collaborations to bring improved recycling infrastructure across this country.”

“It’s exciting when our expertise and a city’s need align so perfectly,” said Marc Scott, Vice President of Environmental at Rehrig Pacific. “Sustainability is truly at the core of this company, and our ability to manufacture these carts from post-consumer content was an ideal solution to help the City of Baltimore continue as a leader in sustainability and innovation. Making a difference in communities while bringing sustainable manufacturing solutions to our partners is what brings real value in our line of work.”

Baltimore expects the delivery of recycling carts to be completed in early 2022.