There has been a continued decline in consumer access to glass recycling due to numerous political and economic reasons. Budget cuts to the EPA in the last decade have led to a recycling industry that has essentially been given the reigns to self-regulation. In the last few years, many municipalities across the country are beginning to drop their glass recycling programs due to lack of profitability. And many product manufacturers would like to increase recycling rates but don’t necessarily have trust in the industry.
“Manufacturers don’t always trust action is being taken when it comes to recycling,” said End of Waste Foundation Cofounder Ionut Georgescu. “They take great commitments towards their product, packaging and sustainability but they can’t take the last steps with recycling unless they have more transparency into the industry. We’ve found manufacturers are willing to contribute financially and operationally to reduce, reuse and recycle but we need to build confidence that real action is being taken. Our Proof of Recycling Program is built to create transparency and bridge the gap between manufacturers and the recycling industry,” Georgescu said.
In order to bridge the gap between product manufacturers and the recycling industry, and make glass recycling profitable, EOWF set out to change the paradigm to a DSR model that effectively creates a circular economy. Instead of “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) which places the burden of recycling on manufacturers and leads to political stalling, DSR promotes spreading the costs between manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers.
While political factors play a role, the primary driver in low recycling rates are simple economic realities. China stopped accepting the world’s recyclables in 2018, and since then glass often represents a net loss for many material recovery facilities (MRFs). The value of clean recyclable glass is only $35 per ton, while it costs about the same to haul, sort and clean the material for processing.
For the EOW™ Proof of Recycling Program, environmentally conscious businesses and consumers can contribute to a certificate-based system. Each certificate verifies how much glass has been saved from landfills and provides the amount of CO2 saved from the atmosphere as a result.
The verification for the Proof of Recycling Program comes from using proprietary blockchain technology that tracks amounts of glass as it moves through the recycling lifecycle. After a consumer throws their bottle into a recycling bin, the RTS works as such:
→ MRF inputs quantities of sorted glass to be delivered to the processor.
→ The processor validates quantities & reports glass cullets shipped to the manufacturer.
→ The manufacturer validates quantities & reports recycled glass quantities to EOWF.
→ A certificate encapsulating all the data is created.
→ EOWF makes the verified quantities available in the marketplace.
→ Sustainable businesses and citizens contribute to receive a Sustainable Packaging Certificate or Recycling Certificate to offset their carbon footprint.
Within six months, the EOWF blockchain platform tracked and recycled 2,625 tons of glass. However, the overall goal is increasing average recycling rates in the United States from 33% today to 85% by 2030. Reaching this goal amounts to saving 4.6 million tons of glass from landfills and represents a 1.6 million-ton reduction in CO2 emissions per year. The reduction in CO2 emissions is akin to taking 313,470 passenger vehicles off the road per year. This process is currently taking place in Colorado, Utah and in Missouri with pilot programs being considered for Wyoming and other localities.
Founder and CEO of EOW, Ionut Georgescu said, “In 1960 the recycling rate hovered at 6% and in 2019 the national average is at 33%. If we continue at this trajectory, it would take us more than 100 years to achieve our goal of an 85% recycling rate. We believe our independent and self-regulated system helps fulfill the goals and needs of all stakeholders involved, including consumers. Our partnership with Rocky Mountain Bottling Company and Momentum Recycling puts us on a sustainable path to a healthier planet.”
About End of Waste Foundation: The End of Waste Foundation is a public-service corporation built on facilitating accuracy and accountability in the recycling industry. EOWF helps environmentally conscious businesses and individuals reach their sustainability goals using the Recycling Traceability System. Our ultimate objective is to curb climate change and bring recycling to every American community.
For more information, contact Public Relations Manager Nikolas Zelinski or contact the EOWF office.