A group of major consumer brands and corporate foundations recently committed more than $54 million to support additional recycling infrastructure and new end markets in the United States.
New York-based investment firm Closed Loop Partners, which supports the circular economy, said this week that the nine original investors in its Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund had extended their capital commitments.
The brands and foundations are 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Keurig Dr. Pepper, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and the Walmart Foundation. Since the fund began, Amazon, Danone North America, Danone Waters of America, Nestlé Waters North America, and Starbucks have also joined.
“No company will be able to address the issue of plastic waste alone, and we need the industry to collectively work together to accelerate circular supply chains and keep materials in play,” Closed Loop Partners said.
The brands’ initial investment already leveraged more than $200 million in co-investment, the firm said. This supported domestic recycling infrastructure development and new markets in cities nationwide. According to Closed Loop Partners, these projects include:
- Eureka Recycling in Minneapolis, Minnesota: A locally operated nonprofit social enterprise, Eureka recovers nearly 100,000 tons of primarily residential recycling per year. Eighty percent of the facility’s material stays in Minnesota and 90% in the Midwest.
- Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) in Florida: The materials recovery facility generates economic benefits in the form of avoided tipping fees and revenue from commodity sales. For the 21-month period starting in January 2017, the facility generated $4.2 million in economic benefits. To date, the facility has operated at a profit margin between 10% and 30% so that ECUA can invest in other critical infrastructure and programs.
- TemperPack in Virginia: This company manufactures proprietary plant and fiber-based insulated packaging solutions for cold chain shipments, perishable food, and pharmaceuticals. Their products replace Styrofoam, which contaminates recycling facilities. TemperPack’s solutions are certified curbside recyclable, helping to keep materials in circulation.
“Current projections indicate new real demand of 5 million to 7.5 million metric tons of recycled content by 2030, requiring an increase of supply of 200-300%,” Closed Loop Partners said. “It will only be possible to meet this need through greater collective investment from brands to move technology along faster.”
Investments Support Corporate Circularity Goals
Executives at brands that are investing in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund say that strengthening domestic recycling capacity and technology helps them reach their own circularity goals.
“To reach our targets and promote a global circular economy, we need to ensure recycled materials are widely available,” said Gayle Schueller, vice president and chief sustainability officer, 3M. Leaders from Coca-Cola North America, PepsiCo Beverages North America, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever North America echoed that.
Chelsea Scantlan, senior program officer for the Walmart Foundation said, “The plastics value chain needs to be rewired for circularity, and innovation and infrastructure investments are needed to seriously address the plastic waste issue in the United States.”