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Amcor joins Coca Cola, Alcoa, and other industry partners today as the Recycling Partnership, a collaborative, industry-funded effort designed to boost residential recycling in the U.S., officially awards its first public grant to the City of Columbia, S.C. The funding will support the Recycling Partnership’s inaugural project in Columbia, where a complete modernization of the city’s residential curbside recycling program will be undertaken.

Amcor and its partners have invested $300,000 in the Columbia, S.C. recycling project. Amcor became a partner in the Recycling Partnership in July 2014 and made the donation through the Amcor Community Program, which provides strategic partnership grants to organizations that share the idea for responsible packaging and helping people in need. "The Recycling Partnership provides the initial funding to help communities prioritize recycling among other important municipal projects," said Charlie Schwarze, global sustainability manager at Amcor Rigid Plastics. "This investment also serves a dual-purpose within Amcor by enabling us to invest in a community where we operate and also increase the amount of valuable recycled PET material for future conversion." Amcor operates a manufacturing facility in nearby Blythewood, S.C.

Amcor’s Rigid Plastics unit - manufacturers of plastic packaging for the food, beverage, spirits, personal/home care, and healthcare industries – is joined by the Alcoa Foundation, American Chemistry Council, American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Ball Corp., Carton Council, Coca-Cola, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, and Sonoco Products as financial supporters of this project designed to leverage one-time private investments with public funding to support recycling efforts in several cities. Formed in 2014 and led by the Curbside Value Partnership, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Recycling Partnership seeks financial assistance from companies to increase public investments in community recycling programs.

The Recycling Partnership has selected four partner cities to launch the effort. Along with Columbia, they include Richmond, Va., and Florence, Ala. A fourth city will be announced later this year. These municipalities will receive technical and financial assistance which will target four key areas:

  • Recycling Access – ensuring municipal households are served by large roll carts.
  • Champion Building – bolstering support from local and state-elected officials.
  • Regional Coordination – creating strategies across the entire recycling value chain to ensure best management practices for municipal recycling.
  • Education and Outreach – Increasing recycling participation and reducing contamination in the recycling stream.

Columbia is converting its recycling program from a bin-based to a cart-based collection program. As part of the program, some 34,000 households will receive 96-gallon carts, technical assistance, and recycling education/outreach. During the next 10 years, Columbia’s improved recycling efforts are expected to produce a savings of 236 million gallons of water, 1.2 million BTUs of energy, and 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases.

Projections show that cities receiving Recycling Partnership grants and technical assistance could realistically increase recovery of recyclable materials by more than 200%, bringing them on par with some of the top performing programs in the country. The City of Columbia, specifically, expects to see a 500% increase in recovered material.

Amcor expects to see a substantial increase in the recovery of valuable post-consumer PET plastic for input into polyester and PET products. According to the company, only 31% of PET bottles in the U.S. are recycled each year, resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of PET being thrown into landfills each year. The Recycling Partnership plans to invest more than $1.4 million this year in recycling infrastructure improvements nationwide.

Amcor also noted that the recycling of plastic bottles reduces the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and reduces the need for using oil and gas as raw materials. Approximately 25 jobs are created for every 1,000 tons of PET that is collected through a curbside recycling system, according to the company.

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