Here’s the backstory: Closed Loop Fund provided a 10-year, zero-interest loan to Waste Commission of Scott County for the recent purchase of recycling carts now in use by residents of Davenport and Bettendorf. Now the social impact funder is sharing lessons learned from our community to help others who want to build great recycling programs of their own. How cool is that?! Here’s what Closed Loop has to say in its press release:

Lessons from the Closed Loop Fund Portfolio

Scott County, IA sees 61% lift in recycling and more than $100,000 in new savings and revenue for municipalities in less than a year.

The recycling lift came from surprising places in Scott County where they have seen a 61% increase in just the first year after the Closed Loop Fund and the County invested $10.75mm in new infrastructure, including recycling carts and a newly upgraded county owned and operated MRF.

The Commission expected to see a sizable lift in volumes of recyclable materials coming into its MRF due to the new full size recycling carts in Davenport and Bettendorf. However, the Commission has also been surprised by how much new material is coming from nearby communities, indicating that the Quad Cities region had previously been underserved with no nearby single stream MRF. Now materials that used to travel much longer distances are coming in from 60-100 miles away.

Serving the Quad Cities community, including Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, the Commission operates a multifaceted facility, including its recycling center, e-waste center, MRF and landfill. The Commission is also the local KAB affiliate and leads community-wide education efforts about recycling.

Waste Commission Director Kathy Morris says, “We’ve very pleased with the program results so far. Davenport and Bettendorf are recycling more, and we’re able to serve additional communities.”

Lessons Learned –What went right and how others can do it too:

Key Insight 1: Best Practices in Education Campaign Effectiveness.
The Commission invested in a robust education and promotion plan for the launch and rollout of the new recycling program. They used data from a public perception survey to inform messaging and outlets, and made strategic use of funding and ambassadors in the community to get the message out. The community-wide, multi-platform campaign was informed by resources and tools from The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit, and executed by a local PR firm. Since the initial launch, the Commission has dedicated attention to follow-through to ensure education efforts have long-lasting effects.

Key Insight 2: Making the Decision to Continue MRF operations.
When the Scott Area Recycling Center’s aging recycling equipment needed to be replaced, the Waste Commission of Scott County and its intergovernmental partners, the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, pursued the change from dual to single stream recycling by evaluating three options – own and operate the MRF, send materials to a privately-owned MRF, or outsource operations to a private entity. Bucking the trend among municipality-owned MRFs today, this analysis concluded that the best option was for the Commission to own and operate an upgraded Recycling Center, and at the same time increase inbound volumes by marketing to more nearby municipalities.

The Closed Loop Fund case study includes insight tools to help others adopt Scott County’s best practice.

The case study also highlights other key success factors for Scott County that can help others implement a successful program:

• Aligned public officials, who were committed to a transition to single stream and increasing diversion.

• Vertically integrated operations, which means the Commission coordinates closely with municipalities on collections, and markets commodities. More value comes to the County as a result.

• Solutions for a wide range of accepted materials, which allows the Commission to find the right home for materials coming into the MRF.

• Sufficient volumes in the County and nearby region. The upgraded MRF now has capacity to sort and process twice as much material as before. The real magic of Scott County’s new recycling services kicked into gear when the Commission began to attract recyclables from the greater Quad Cities region.

For more case studies or to learn how to apply for funding, visit