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Closing the loop on a lost opportunity

Walmart may not operate stores in New York but it managed to enlist the aid of the city’s top trash executive to reinforce the importance of accelerating recycling efforts.

New York City spends $336 million annually to dispose of trash that if it were recycled would have an estimated value of $11 billion, Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner of sanitation for New York City told attendees at Walmart’s Sustainable Products Expo. Meanwhile, Walmart and CPG companies who have intensified their commitment to sustainability don’t have access to enough recycled materials because recycling rates have stagnated.

The solution presented at the Walmart event held this week in Rogers, Ark., was to create a new funding mechanism called the Closed Loop Fund. The innovative investment vehicle will help finance projects that increase recycling with the goal of ensuring that all Americans have convenient access to recycling. The aspirational goal is to divert valuable raw materials from landfills by helping to provide 100% of U.S. consumers with access to recycling where and when they need it.

In addition to Walmart and the Walmart Foundation other companies signing on to help fund the fund were The Coca-Cola Company, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and Unilever.

Details of the program will be announced in the coming months, according to Walmart, but for now the retailer and other participants are issuing an open call to peers and competitors to join the movement. The Closed Loop Fund is expected to result in outcomes such as creating economic value for cities by reducing landfill disposal fees and increasing revenue from the sale of recyclable commodities, creating local jobs and community engagement and increasing supply and use of affordable post-consumer recycled materials in consumer goods. And of course the effort will preserve our natural resources while facilitating innovative private sector investment to support recycling.