The entity is called the Recycling Partnership, and the grant funds will support its inaugural project in Columbia: a complete modernization of the city’s residential curbside recycling program.
Formed in 2014 and led by the non-profit Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), the Recycling Partnership is funded by Coca-Cola, the Alcoa Foundation, Amcor, Ball Corp., and Sonoco Products. Funding is also provided by the American Chemistry Council, American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Carton Council and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.
“Our grant is seed money; the city is funding the bulk of the project cost,” Karen Bandhauer, CVP project director, told FoodProductionDaily. “But it was enough of an incentive to help their city council say yes.”
Bins to carts
With the Recycling Partnership’s assistance, Columbia is converting its recycling program from a bin-based to a cart-based collection program. More than 34,000 households will receive 96-gallon carts, technical assistance, and recycling education and outreach.
“The local community is really excited about this,” Bandhauer said.
“We were at the State of the City address last Tuesday (January 20), and Mayor Benjamin specifically called out the Recycling Partnership. There was hooting and clapping from the audience.“
As a result of the program, the city of Columbia expects to see a 500% increase in recovered material. Bandhauer said the material will go to Sonoco Products to be processed and sold. Amcor has expressed interest in some of the material.
“[Our] investment 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 (polyethylene terephthalate) material for future conversion,” said Charlie Schwarze, global sustainability manager at Amcor Rigid Plastics. The company operates a manufacturing facility in Blythewood, South Carolina, not far from Columbia.
"Recycled materials are critical to our business — we need good clean materials, but there are challenges associated with quality," said Mike Pope, director of procurement for Sonoco Recycling. "We believe Curbside Value Partnership’s mission, along with their community and educational initiatives support our need for quality materials."
Pope added, "We elected to partner with [Curbside Value Partnership] because we want to help build a system that allows for comprehensive recovery. We are impressed that less than one year into the process we have cities identified and partners at the table that are on board and ready to go."
During the next 10 years, Bandhauer said, 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 CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases.
“The city of Columbia is highly committed to improving our recycling program,” said John P. Hooks, the city’s solid waste superintendent. “The Recycling Partnership is giving us the push we need to convert to a cart based program, and seeding us with the capital that will improve the current recycling system for the citizens of Columbia.”