A non-profit that brings together funding and communities, The Recycling Partnership has made some real inroads into bringing the goal to improve recycling in the U.S. closer to reality.

“Less than half the recyclables in U.S. homes are captured: just 14 million tons out of an available 36 million are recycled every year from single-family homes,” according to The Recycling Partnership.

“By working together to help every family in America recycle, and recycle well, The Recycling Partnership’s goal is to double the current recycling rate and capture 22 million more tons of recyclables per year, avoid 50 million metric tons of greenhouse gas annually, and save $250 million in contamination costs every year.”

The Recycling Partnership’s latest successes are the measurably improved recycling efforts in Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. Recently these cities teamed up with The Recycling Partnership “to help residents in their communities recycle properly.”

Recycling in Denver

Denver is one of those cities that seem to be ahead of the curve on recycling. When The Recycling Partnership partnered with Denver they first looked at the city’s recycling statistics. They found that Denver had low contamination rates and they were doing a pretty good job recycling but that more recyclables could be diverted from the trash.

In just months, through their partnership, the City of Denver had increased the amount of aluminum cans recycled by 25 percent.

“Denver is committed to quickly improving its recycling rate by 2020. Maximizing our existing programs will be critical to reaching that goal, and our work with The Recycling Partnership to improve recovery through our residential recycling program has set us on an impactful course.” (Source: Charlotte Pitt, Manager of Solid Waste Management, City of Denver)

Recycling in Chicago

The City of Chicago, The Recycling Partnership discovered, had very high contamination rates. To reduce those rates, they sent out an informational mailer to 630,000 single-family homes. After the mailer, they advertised, conducted social media outreach and special events – all in an effort to create a “culture of recycling.”

In just months, through these efforts, the City of Chicago had decreased the overall contamination by 32 percent.

“Educating residents on how to recycle properly has long-term effects on Chicago’s sustainability objectives. Our recent collaboration with The Recycling Partnership showed that targeted, on-the-ground work could have a tremendous impact on reducing contamination that extends beyond the campaign timeframe; we’re teaching our residents lifelong recycling habits.” (Source: John Tully, Commissioner of Streets & Sanitation, City of Chicago)

Recycling in Atlanta

The City of Atlanta, The Recycling Partnership discovered, also had very high contamination rates. The Partnership joined city staff and they put helpful reminders on residents’ carts about what is and what is not recyclable. They also ran an awareness campaign to remind residents to put their recyclables in the carts “loose, not bagged.”

In just months, the City of Atlanta decreased bagged recyclables by 62 percent and increased the overall capture rate of recycling by 27 percent.

“We are pleased that the City of Atlanta had the opportunity to work with the Recycling Partnership to improve our recycling program. Our results were incredible, and we’re excited to build upon them. This partnership, which included a grassroots public education strategy, resulted in a 57 percent overall decrease in recycling contamination. Atlanta is committed to increasing recycling participation, and now we have demonstrated a great template to help move the needle faster.” (Source: William Johnson, Deputy Chief Operating Officer/Department of Public Works Commissioner, City of Atlanta)

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