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August 5, 2022

Walmart Foundation backs new US recycling and circularity hub

The Walmart Foundation is supporting the launch of a new project to drive measurable improvement in US residential recycling behaviour and mobilise household participation in the circular economy.

By Beth Wright

With founding support from the Walmart Foundation and Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation, The Recycling Partnership has launched The Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact which will act as a hub for people-focused solutions designed to drive measurable improvement in recycling behaviours.

Fuelled by robust data and consumer research together with on-the-ground community pilots, The Center aims to improve recycling for all, empower recycling leaders to bolster programmes, and advance circularity, The Recycling Partnership says on its website.

“Engaging the public means first ensuring that all people have equitable access to recycling services,” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership.

He continues: “As we reached over 100 million American households, we saw first-hand that there is a critical missing piece. We have a responsibility to make it easy, even enjoyable, for all Americans to fully participate. We will do just that, working in collaboration with our expert launch advisors to create and rapidly share innovative, evidence-based solutions with practitioners and stakeholders working across the circular economy on recycling, reuse, and reduction.”

Louise Bruce, managing director for the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact, adds: “Solving this challenge requires an evidence-based approach. By rigorously evaluating and disseminating our findings, we are making the Center the go-to hub for innovative, people-focused solutions that substantially improve recycling at every step of the consumer journey. With this, we hope to empower recycling leaders to optimise their programmes, and advance circularity of the economy.”

With support from the Walmart Foundation and Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation, The Recycling Partnership will leverage its network of community partnerships, comprehensive national database, deep expertise in recycling education, and what it calls its established track record of improving underperforming recycling programmes to propel positive change in recycling behaviour. This change will be measured through both an increased capture of recyclable material and growth in household recycling participation.

“The Center is filling a gap in the flywheel of the circular economy, which includes circular design, infrastructure and behavior change,” says Julie Gehrki, vice president and COO of The Walmart Foundation.

She adds: “The Walmart Foundation is supporting the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact to identify key trends, attitudes, motivations, and barriers to circularity nationally, regionally, and locally. These insights will inform multiple tools to accelerate trust in and adoption of recycling, including a digital playbook that will be designed purposefully to improve community confidence in recycling and embed equity in circular initiatives.”

The Center will initially focus on three areas: (i) deepening understanding of consumer barriers and sentiments toward recycling, (ii) scientifically testing different types of solutions to determine the most effective and scalable tactics that improve recycling behaviour with different populations in the US, and (iii) creating a playbook and accompanying online tool to make best practices and key insights available to national, state, and local recycling leaders.

To support its initial phase The Center is working with six Launch Advisors; experts and practitioners in the fields of environmental research, behavioural science, community recycling programme management, and sustainability marketing to ensure that its research practices meet the highest scientific standards, while rooted in the everyday challenges of local communities.

Click here to learn more about The Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact and The Recycling Confidence Index.

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