In 2007, 60% of Americans could recycle at home via a curbside collection system. In the United States, 84% of the population has access to residential curbside recycling in the Northeast, 76% in the West coast, 61% in the Midwest and only 30% in the South. There are 8,660 recycling programs operating in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Recycle Together?
With concerns about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions growing daily, The Climate Group’s newest public-private collaboration effort looks to emphasize recycling as part of the solution to overcoming global warming. Recycle Together is a new, focused public-private initiative to illustrate how the conservation of natural resources could be used as a way to help meet the climate change challenge.
- How does recycling help climate change?
According to the most recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures, recycling in the United States makes a significant contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. The 85 million tons of municipal solid waste recycled in 2007, alone, reduced GHG emissions by 193 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. That contribution is the same as removing 35 million cars from the road.
- How will Recycle Together accomplish its goal?
To accomplish our goal to accelerate the low carbon, zero waste economy, we need unprecedented collaboration between the public and private spheres. Neither side can do this alone. In short, to move from demonstration to market transformation, we need a robust public policy push with support from the leaders in the corporate and public policy world.
- What needs to change to effect conservation of resources?
We need policies that:
- Offer sustainable resources a level playing field; currently policies favor virgin materials use over secondary materials use.
- Encourage brand owners to incorporate sustainable packaging and product innovation, which would leverage increased investment in cutting-edge materials collection and processing technologies.
- Incentivize citizens to recycle instead of throwing things away.
- What about the drop in value of recycling end-use markets?
It should not be a surprise that the market values for recycled materials have declined along with the downturns in all other sectors of our global economy.
- All commodity markets are cyclical and recycled materials are commodities, just like oil and grain; when economic activity slows, so does the demand for commodities.
- Recycled plastics, metal, glass, and paper are used to make new products and with less demand worldwide, these materials aren’t needed in the same quantity.
The dominant beverage container materials, aluminum and PET, are still distinguished by their high value relative to other recyclable materials. That means these are desirable commodities to include in recycling programs, even when prices are weak. This is a perfect time to be demonstrating and promoting best practices in recycling.
- With city budgets under pressure to control and cut costs, it is critical that the recycling collection infrastructure be as efficient and effective as possible.
- The best practices developed and part of the “Model Recycling City” initiative should be in place in every city and county in the country.
These practices insure that in both strong and soft markets the overall system is as efficient and effective as possible.
- What does Recycle Together offer cities and regions?
Recycle Together offers innovative public-policy framework along with essential information that provides cities with the basics for high performing residential recycling systems.