Recycling’s Role in a Circular Economy

A circular economy supported by strong recycling infrastructure ensures all valuable materials––from plastics to paper, glass and aluminum––are recovered after use, kept in circulation and never go to waste.

Recycling infrastructure, spanning collection, sortation and manufacturing of recycled materials, represents the fundamental mechanism by which we recapture materials after use. 

To date, recycling infrastructure has been woefully underfunded across the United States, leaving behind an outdated and inefficient system. While our waste stream continues to evolve rapidly, with new types of packaging and textiles entering the fold, our recovery infrastructure hasn’t kept up. It’s critical that we improve access to recycling via more carts at the curb, more collection trucks on the road, and improved education on the dos and don’ts of recycling. Meanwhile, recycling facilities need upgrading with state-of-the-art technology and equipment, including optical sorters, new belt configurations and AI-backed robotics to increase efficiency. 

And finally, recycled content must be used in manufacturing supply chains, creating the necessary pull through the system for recycled materials.

Research & Insights