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Finance & Innovation

Amazon Invests $10 Million to Improve US Recycling Rates

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Recycling rates in the US are below other modernized countries and could increase with the right investments. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.  

Amazon is investing $10 million in the Closed Loop Fund, a group that provides loans to municipalities and companies that are working to improve recycling throughout the US, according to the Seattle Times.

The consumer goods and marketplace giant will be providing the money over the next five years in $2 million increments, and will then be paid back with interest.

Other consumer goods brands such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, and PepsiCo have invested in Closed Loop Fund as well. Around $71 million have been invested through the fund to date, according to Amazon.  

Take Action: Take the Plastic Pledge: #UnplasticthePlanet

Amazon’s investment will make curbside recycling available to 3 million people, which could lead to an additional 1 million tons of materials being recycled each year.

The US currently recycles around 34% of the waste it produces, which is far behind other countries in the world. Germany, for example, has a recycling rate of 56.1%.

Low recycling rates mean that landfills throughout the country are receiving more waste than they need to, which increases greenhouse gas emissions and contamination of natural environments, among other problems.  

“This investment will help build the local capabilities needed to make it easier for our customers and their communities to recycle and to increase the amount of material recycled across the country,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a press release.

Read More: Amazon's Jeff Bezos Commits $2 Billion to Tackle Homelessness and Early Education

“We are investing in Closed Loop Fund’s work because we think everyone should have access to easy, convenient curbside recycling,” he added. “The more we are all able to recycle, the more we can reduce our collective energy, carbon, and water footprint.”

Amazon has been trying to improve the sustainability of its packaging for years, mainly through efforts to minimize materials and ensure that they’re recycled after being used.  

For example, the company introduced “frustration free packaging” which uses less material and is more recyclable a decade ago. Since then, Amazon claims that this more efficient packaging has averted more than 244,000 tons of packaging materials.

The company, of course, stands to benefit from improved recycling rates because it expands the market for reusable raw materials. By investing in packaging efficiencies, the brand also cuts down on overhead costs.

“It’s a really exciting model because it’s a lot of what’s needed to invest and make recycling viable for municipalities,” Kara Hurst, Amazon sustainability chief, told the Seattle Times.

Read More: Plastic We Think We've Recycled Could Still End Up in a Landfill. Here's How.

“We liked the structure of this, the fact that they have a track record and put capital to work already,” she said.