(May 1, 2023) – Today, the City of Kansas City, Missouri begins delivery of 162,000 recycling carts that sets the wheels in motion to transition the city to cart-based recycling collection which provides increased capacity for more recyclable materials, rolling carts for easy maneuvering, and a streamlined collections process. The project, which advances safer, more efficient, and equitable recycling access for Kansas City’s half a million residents is the culmination of nearly five years of planning and one of the nation’s largest public-private collaborations to advance a community’s recycling program.
The City’s current opt-in recycling system requires residents to purchase or use their own recycling bins, which can be no larger than 32-gallons. With the transition to 65-gallon carts, every household with curbside solid waste service will receive a cart, be able to participate in recycling and fully utilize all 65-gallons for recyclable materials. Additionally, the carts have wheels making them easy to maneuver and are lidded to keep recyclables loose and dry.
“We heard Kansas Citians’ requests loud and clear and Kansas City government is proud to deliver new lidded recycling carts, ensuring we can become a cleaner and more environmentally conscious community, while diverting thousands of pounds of waste away from landfills,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “These improved recycling carts are yet another step toward achieving a clean and green city and reaching our goal of climate neutrality citywide by 2040.”
The 65-gallon recycling carts are the result of a $1.5 million public-private collaborative project between the city, The Recycling Partnership, the American Beverage Association, and Dow. Dow donated a portion, 1.2 million pounds, of the plastic resin to produce the recycling carts, The Recycling Partnership provided program technical support, and funding support made possible in part by American Beverage’s Every Bottle Back initiative and the Missouri Beverage Association.
“Public-private partnerships like this are critical for improving city infrastructure, especially in a community as large as Kansas City, MO, and the mixture of grants, investment, and donation of plastic resin is key to making the project possible,” says Cody Marshall, Chief System Optimization Officer at The Partnership. “This is The Recycling Partnership’s largest cart grant project in the Midwest and the second largest cart grant to date. Cart-based collection is a key foundation for any communities’ solid waste program, makes it easier for residents to recycle, often increases the amount of recyclable material collected, and helps to move Kansas City towards a fully carted system.”
“We are thrilled American Beverage has identified Kansas City, MO, for an Every Bottle Back grant to make it convenient for residents to have their recyclable materials picked up at their front doors,” said Sally Hargis, president of Missouri Beverage Association. “Beverage companies are taking a leadership role in improving recycling in our communities. It is a priority of Missouri Beverage Association to ensure our 100% recyclable bottles and cans are remade rather than wasted in landfills or ending up in nature.”
Launched in 2019 by the American Beverage Association, Every Bottle Back is an unprecedented initiative to reduce the beverage industry’s plastic footprint by investing in recycling infrastructure and education to increase the collection of the beverage industry’s plastic bottles, which are carefully designed to be 100% recyclable. Every Bottle Back brings together The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and PepsiCo with leading environmental and sustainability organizations – World Wildlife Fund, Closed Loop Partners, and The Recycling Partnership – to support the circular plastics economy. A separate Every Bottle Back investment made in collaboration with Closed Loop Partners, American Beverage Association and Missouri Beverage Association brings the total contribution from the beverage industry to Kansas City to $3 million to modernize recycling infrastructure.
With any recycling system change, education is a critical component to ensuring residents know what should be recycled, and how to best utilize the space and capacity of carts to recycle more material. As part of the recycling cart roll-out, a recycling education campaign will be launched for residents throughout Kansas City, Missouri. Many residents have already received a postcard announcing their cart will be delivered starting today, May 1, and cart distribution will continue throughout the summer. Residents will receive a postcard when cart distribution is set to begin in their area. Further information will be delivered with the recycling cart itself to inform residents about how to use their cart, as well as what can and cannot be recycled.
“As we move closer to a circular plastic economy, it’s critical that we have good collection methods in place to capture used plastics that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” says Ritika Kalia, North America Marketing and Sustainability Sr. Director at Dow. “We chose to support this cart system rolling out in Kansas City because it will directly impact the local community as well as Dow’s 2030 sustainability targets and we’re grateful to have organizations with like-minded sustainability goals collaborating on this project.”
In late 2022, the city began informing residents and gave them sneak peeks of the new carts as they started to roll off the production line at Rehrig’s De Soto, Kansas facility.
“We are thrilled to partner on projects like the Kansas City Program,” said Rebecca Vara, Vice President of Environmental Solutions at Rehrig Pacific. “Sustainability is at the core of Rehrig Pacific and our ability to manufacture carts from post-consumer content provides an optimized and circular solution to Kansas City. Joining together with the City, The Recycling Partnership, and Dow highlights the incredible power of collaboration and the ability to drive significant change.”
Kansas City anticipates the delivery of the 162,000 carts to be completed in August 2023. For more information about the city’s program, visit https://www.kcmo.gov/city-hall/trash/recycling.
At The Recycling Partnership, we are solving for circularity. As a mission-driven NGO, we are committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system. We mobilize people, data, and solutions across the value chain to reduce waste and our impact on the environment while also unlocking economic benefits. We work on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs; we partner with companies to achieve packaging circularity, increase access to recycled materials, and meet sustainability commitments; and we work with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system and advance a circular economy. We foster public-private partnerships and drive positive change at every step of the recycling and circularity process. Since 2014, we have diverted 770 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, avoided more than 670,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and driven significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.