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Groups Slam Walmart’s Recycling Fund

walmartA consortium of recycling-focused organizations has slammed the Closed Loop Fund recycling loan program launched in April by Walmart and eight other companies for being ineffectual, and called upon the companies involved to instead back what they term proven policies to boost recycling such as extended producer responsibility.

Walmart’s $100m recycling loan fund aims to provide 100 percent of US consumers with access to recycling where and when they need it.

The consortium, which includes Upstream, 5 Gyres, Eureka Recycling, Green America, Story of Stuff Project and Texas Campaign for the Environment, say that while they “acknowledge and appreciate” the companies’ goal, they don’t believe the proposed fund will do much to achieve it.

According to the consortium $100 million is “a drop in the bucket” – both in terms of what it actually costs the companies, and the amount that’s actually needed to significantly boost recycling in the US.

For example San Jose, Calif., just spent $50 million modernizing its material recovery facility.

The companies involved in the recycling loan fund operate under extended producer responsibility policies in most of Europe and increasingly Canada and Southeast Asia, with over one billion people living in jurisdictions where consumer goods companies pay some or all of the costs of recycling. Beverage companies abide by extended producer responsibility in most container-deposit (bottle bill) states in the US.

While the same companies involved in the Closed Loop Recycling Fund have operated under extended producer responsibility systems — which make consumer goods companies responsible for financing packaging recycling and meeting recycling targets — throughout Europe for many years, they have given strong resistance in the US, according to the consortium.

This approach would cost money and would require the companies to internalize the costs that packaging waste creates for society and the environment – litter, beach cleanups, solid-waste and recycling costs, wasted natural resources and energy, habitat destruction and lost opportunities to grow jobs in recycling, the consortium says.

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