Plastics Recycling Update

Pepsi launches $5 million public space recycling project

Pepsi says the U.S. container recycling rate will see significant gains thanks to a new partnership the beverage giant has forged with a national conservation group.

Alongside The Nature Conservancy, PepsiCo will lead “Recycle by Nature,” a five-year project that will outfit gas stations and retailers throughout the country with recycling bins. According to a PepsiCo press release, one of the principal goals of the program is to bring the national container recycling rate to 50 percent by 2018.

“Most consumers want to recycle when they’re away from home — there just aren’t enough convenient places to do it,” said Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, in the release. “This is a huge opportunity that has been largely unaddressed until now. The easier we can make it to recycle, the more likely people are to recycle.”

Susan Collins of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) said raising the current container recovery rate of about 40 percent to 50 percent would take recycling an additional 24 billion containers annually. According to a recent CRI “report,” the national container recycling rate barely budged from 39 percent in 2000 to 39.6 percent in 2010. In 2010, approximately 153 billion containers were either landfilled, littered or incinerated.

A recent poll conducted by Pepsi found that more than 80 percent of citizens would recycle containers away from their homes if public space recycling bins were more prevalent.

The PepsiCo release also states that “Recycle by Nature” is part of the Closed Loop Fund, a new zero-interest loan program funded by corporations and directed toward communities and organizations aiming to boost recycling and recycling infrastructure. Tim Carey, senior director of sustainability at Pepsi, told Resource Recycling “Recycle by Nature” is indeed part of its investment in the Closed Loop Fund, but, as a “special project,” it will be independently financed by the company to the tune of about $5 million.

That total, Carey explained, will not need to be paid back by spaces and communities benefiting from more recycling bins.

“We appreciate Pepsi’s investment in the Closed Loop Fund which will go toward the development of recycling infrastructure across the U.S.,” the Fund’s CEO Ron Gonen told Resource Recycling. “And we applaud Pepsi’s individual investment in this project focused on recycling in public places.”

Pepsi and the Nature Conservancy will launch “Recycle by Nature” through an expansion of an ongoing project in Tulsa, Oklahoma — there, the duo will aim to increase the amount of public space recycling bins tenfold before branching out to the rest of the country. Carey explained that it will be a logical continuation of a similar project with identical recycling rate goals launched by PepsiCo in 2010. Two years into the program, Pepsi reported nearly 100 million containers had been recycled at company-sponsored reverse vending machines and traditional recycling receptacles.

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