Alcoa invests $2 million to accelerate recycling

Alcoa invests $2 million to accelerate recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Alcoa and its charitable giving branch, the Alcoa Foundation, will invest $2 million into a new recycling initiative that seeks to significantly increase the national recycling rate.

The announcement was made earlier this week at the Clinton Global Initiative, with Alcoa saying it will make a sizable contribution to Action to Accelerate Recycling (AAR), an initiative launched at a summit in February by nearly 80 businesses, environmental groups and industry associations with the goal of boosting the U.S. recycling rate by 20 percentage points in three years. The new commitment from Alcoa aims to increase awareness of recycling, create incentives to recycle, and provide greater access and infrastructure to aid in the recovery of aluminum, plastic, glass and paper for recycling.

The announcement from Alcoa comes months after Novelis withdrew from Evermore Recycling, the joint used beverage container (UBC) buying venture between the two aluminum behemoths. The Wall Street Journal this week reported that, since the two companies have parted ways, they have been in a battle to collect more aluminum cans for recycling, with Alcoa keeping the reins for Evermore.

"For every can that is recycled, we save energy and money, reduce our environmental impact, and create economic opportunities in U.S. communities," said Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa, in a prepared statement. "Our partnership with Keep America Beautiful is a 'call to action' for companies, consumers and community organizations to make recycling a priority. Together with our industry partners, we set and can achieve an ambitious, yet achievable, 75-percent aluminum can recycling rate by 2015 in the U.S."

Specifically, AAR will include the following Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation programs:

  • "Pass the Can" – For every virtual can passed through this Facebook app, the Alcoa Foundation will donate $1 (up to $75,000) to Keep America Beautiful, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Planet Ark to fund recycling programs around the world.
  • Net Impact – "Small Steps, Big Wins" Campus Challenge will reach 50 college campuses around the world to offer incentives for students to take 50,000 small steps towards environmental action.
  • – The largest youth-led aluminum recycling drive in the U.S.
  • Tailgate Recycling Programs – The Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, Purdue University and Clemson University will create innovative recycling programs that encourage fans to recycle in parking lots during football season.
  • Pennsylvania Resources Council – The program will educate consumers about the recyclability of pet food cans and create a model for collecting cans that can easily be replicated.

Alcoa will also be working with Keep America Beautiful and Action to Accelerate Recycling will incorporate the following programs from the national beautification organization:

  • Industry Pledge to Increase Recycling – Solicit industry to pledge a 10-percent increase in the recycling of aluminum, paper, plastic and glass in the workplace through variety of programs.
  • Recycling Media Campaign – A multimedia campaign to reach 200 million people.
  • State Fairs Recycling Initiative – Provides recycling access and develops best practices in four to six underserved state fair venues with funding from Alcoa.

According to an internal memo from Erin Billman, managing consultant at the sustainability oriented consulting company Blu Skye, several projects affiliated with AAR have already been launched.

"We find ourselves now at a natural transition point," wrote Billman in the memo. "Several projects are established and appear to be on their way to excellent partnership with established organizations. We believe that AAR has served its purpose in promoting action and inspiring progress that would not have otherwise existed."

One of these projects seeks to create partnerships between the private sector and communities that will create funding models allowing for the implementation of curbside best practices. So far, according to the memo, the current priority with the project is identifying a pilot that would create value for potential investors and can be scaled and replicated across the country.

KAB has also selected advertising agency Pereira & O'Dell to work on a national awareness campaign for recycling, according to the memo. Currently, the project is in its research and planning phase.

Another project is in the works that seeks to capture better data that will be used in developing priorities and establishing baselines. According to the memo, the next steps will depend on proposed legislation to reform the collection of recycling data as well as decisions made by the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment, an industry organization concerned with environmental packaging issues, who is working on the project.

The memo notes that during the AAR summit, suggestions were made to establish a "Funding and Governance" group. However, it appears that such a group will not be formed due to the overabundance of recycling organizations already in existence that could fulfill the goals of AAR, as well as companies being more interested in funding projects than overhead.

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