The Recycling Partnership today announced a third round of grant funding through its Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, distributing an additional $1.8 million in catalytic grants to advance polypropylene recycling and reduce plastic waste in the U.S. Launched just one year ago, the Coalition has awarded grants that will improve curbside polypropylene recycling access for nearly 6% of all U.S. households. These grants will positively impact nearly 15 million Americans through grants to 13 facilities totaling $4.2 million to date. The Coalition is a cross-industry effort supported by steering committee members Keurig Dr Pepper, Braskem, NextGen Consortium, and the Walmart Foundation, along with other members of the polypropylene value chain.
Polypropylene, sometimes referred to as PP or No. 5 plastic, is used in an array of food and non-food packaging and is in strong demand as a recycled material. Through its third round of grant funding, the Coalition will provide six grants to Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) across the U.S. to boost sortation of polypropylene and support targeted consumer education efforts. To date, the Coalition has awarded grants across the U.S. to increase the recovery of polypropylene by an estimated 13 million pounds annually to be made into new products, such as consumer packaging and automotive parts, rather than being sent to landfills, incineration, and into the environment. The widespread interest and commitment from MRFs across the U.S. to increase the collection and sortation of recyclable polypropylene clearly demonstrates the market strength for this material nationwide and has catalyzed more than $10 million in additional private investments in polypropylene sortation within U.S. MRFs.
“In just one year, the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition has led the way to rapidly drive significant, measurable change to improve and increase the capture of polypropylene in U.S. curbside recycling,” said Sarah Dearman, Vice President of Circular Ventures, The Recycling Partnership. “The Recycling Partnership is proud to lead the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition and its meaningful work that is inspiring industry investment, supporting jobs, preserving natural resources, and activating the transition to a circular economy in the United States.”
The Coalition makes grants to MRF candidates that face challenges in their ability to effectively sort and recycle polypropylene. According to recent studies of U.S. recycling access, just under 60% of Americans have access to recycling polypropylene. With the Coalition’s strategic grants, it is estimated curbside acceptance of polypropylene will increase by nearly 6% once all equipment is installed by early 2022. This will result in more No. 5 plastic being sent to established end markets and encouraging the shift to a circular economy. Consumers in these areas will also be educated as to what is and isn’t accepted in their curbside recycling.
Domestic reclaimers and re-processors further along the PP value chain acknowledge the supply signals sent by the Coalition’s MRF grants. In response, many made investments to prepare for processing the increased supply of this material for returning it to domestic end markets. Coalition members alone with reclamation and reprocessing facilities made more than $32 million in investments over the past year to increase polypropylene reclamation capacity by nearly 800 million pounds within their North American facilities. Additional reclamation and reprocessing investments are planned or underway for 2022, as multimillion dollar infrastructure investments are still needed.
The geographic reach of the first three rounds of Coalition MRF grantees includes the Northeast, Southeast, Upper Midwest, South Central, and West Coast regions, including California. The Coalition received a strong response to each of the three prior requests for proposals and continues to accept grant applications to further its efforts to advance polypropylene curbside recycling. The next grant proposal request is due Sept. 30, 2021. MRFs interested in sorting and recycling polypropylene are encouraged to apply.
The six newest grantees are:
- Green Waste, San Jose, Calif.
- Murphy Road, Berlin, Conn.
- Palm Beach County, Fla.
- Pellitteri, Madison, Wis.
- Sonoco-Raleigh, Raleigh, N.C.
- Sonoco-Onslow, Jacksonville, N.C.
The mission-driven work of the Coalition is supported by contributions from organizations representing all segments of the polypropylene value chain, including the Coalition’s newest members, Advanced Drainage Systems, Berry Global, Plastic Ingenuity, and PureCycle. In addition to the aforementioned steering committee members, other members of the Coalition include Campbell Soup Company, EFS-plastics, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, KW Plastics, LyondellBasell, Merlin Plastics, Milliken & Company, Nestlé, PolyQuest, Procter & Gamble, Sabert Corporation, St. Joseph Plastics, and Winpak. The Coalition is advised by industry leaders, including Association of Plastic Recyclers, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, Closed Loop Partners, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund. The Coalition is part of The Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity, an initiative creating scalable solutions to packaging and system challenges to accelerate the shift to a circular economy that uses fewer finite resources. To learn more about the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, its members, and how to get involved in supporting its goals, visit recyclingpartnership.org/polypropylene-coalition. For MRFs interested in applying for a grant, the application is available on our website.
To hear more from Polypropylene Recycling Coalition members on this exciting announcement, click here.