- In a June 29 press release, The Recycling Partnership — along with the City of Denver and the Can Capture Group — announced an expansion of Denver, Colorado's recycling education program focused on aluminum cans.
- As quoted in the release, Mayor Michael Hancock said, "Denver is proud to team up once again with The Recycling Partnership and the Can Capture Group and to be the first city in the country to run this challenge to recycle every aluminum we can in the metro area." He added the city aims to raise its recycling and composting rate to 34% by 2020.
- In response to informational cards placed on carts, residents in pilot communities recycled 25% more aluminum cans. The nonprofit plans to expand that model this summer, with cards on mailboxes and other messaging throughout the city.
The Recycling Partnership's 2017 pilot is among multiple recent examples of how targeted education can help boost capture rates and reduce contamination for curbside programs. The nonprofit initially partnered with Denver to work on cardboard, but switched that focus to aluminum cans after finding a high percentage of them in the baseline characterization study. Other recent high-profile projects have occurred in Atlanta and Chicago.
At a time when recyclers and municipalities are scrambling to improve material quality, local-level initiatives are seen as more crucial than ever if the U.S. is to modernize its waste stream. Focusing on high-value material such as aluminum is also a priority, as other commodities remain far less profitable.
The national nonprofit has emerged as one of the driving forces behind this work thanks to significant corporate backing. In April, The Recycling Partnership reported it expects to hit a $33 million investment target this year. Early last month, it also announced a $1 million grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation aimed at reducing marine debris through new lidded carts in coastal areas.
This trend of philanthropic funding has become increasingly common for recycling projects, as evidenced by another announcement from Denver last week about a new food waste project backed by the Rockefeller Foundation.