Plastic Recycling : Investements to improve PP curbside recycling in the US

PP, Plastic recycling symbol PP 5, blue glitter background
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The Recycling Partnership today announced its fourth round of grant funding through its Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, issuing nearly $1.6 million in catalytic grants to advance polypropylene recycling in the U.S. These funds will improve curbside polypropylene recycling access for approximately 6.9% of U.S. households when combined with prior grants. Launched in July 2020, the Coalition is a cross-industry effort supported by steering committee members Keurig Dr Pepper, Braskem, NextGen Consortium, and the Walmart Foundation, along with other members of the polypropylene value chain.

Through this latest round of grant funding, the Coalition will provide an additional seven grants to Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) across the U.S. – a total of 20 in just under two years – to boost sortation of polypropylene and support recycling education efforts. These investments will increase the recovery of polypropylene by an estimated 22 million pounds annually for established end markets such as consumer packaging and automotive parts. Polypropylene, sometimes referred to as No. 5 plastic, is an important packaging material increasingly used for various food and non-food products; it is estimated to be the third most prominent plastic in the residential recycling stream and is in strong demand as a recycled material.

“The impact the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition has made in just under two years to improve recycling for approximately 7.2 million households in America is an incredible effort in driving rapid and measurable change. This outcome highlights the power of collaboration, especially when combined with the strategic expertise of the Partnership team,” said Sarah Dearman, Vice President of Circular Ventures at The Recycling Partnership. “This is the type of meaningful investment all materials need to improve their packaging circularity. We continue to encourage all companies that use polypropylene to become part of the solution to ensure greater and better capture of this valuable recyclable material.”

The Coalition awards grants to MRF candidates that face significant challenges in their ability to effectively sort and recycle polypropylene. With this strategic expansion, polypropylene will now be accepted curbside in more communities and residents educated as to what is and isn’t accepted in their recycling programs, resulting in more material captured and made into new products. These endeavors further strengthen polypropylene’s position as a valuable recycled material and accelerate the shift to a circular economy.

The newest grantees include:

  • Napa Recycling in Napa, Calif.
  • Cedar Ave Recycling and Transfer Station in Fresno, Calif.
  • SOCRRA in Troy, Mich.
  • Republic Services in Oberlin, Ohio
  • Baltimore County in Md.
  • Recycle Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • City of Phoenix, Ariz. (incremental funding provided by Keurig Dr Pepper)

The combined geographic reach of the first four rounds of grantees includes MRFs across the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western regions of the U.S. The widespread interest and commitment from MRFs across the U.S. to growing the collection and sortation of recyclable polypropylene clearly demonstrates the market strength for this material nationwide.

The Coalition received a strong response to the first four rounds of requests for proposals and continues to accept grant applications to further its efforts to advance polypropylene recycling and reduce plastic waste. The next grant proposal request is due May 31, 2022. MRFs interested in sorting polypropylene are encouraged to apply.

The mission-driven work of the Coalition is supported by contributions from organizations representing all segments of the material’s value chain. In addition to the aforementioned steering committee members, other members of the Coalition include Campbell Soup Company, EFS-plastics, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, KW Plastics, LyondellBasell, Merlin Plastics, Milliken & Company, Nestlé, PolyQuest, Procter & Gamble, St. Joseph Plastics, and Winpak. The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition is advised by industry leaders including: Association of Plastic Recyclers, Closed Loop Partners, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund. The Coalition is part of The Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity, an initiative creating scalable solutions to packaging and system challenges to accelerate the shift to a circular economy that uses fewer finite resources.