Apr. 05, 2017

Closed Loop Fund Case Study

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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 www.closedlooppartners.com.

Mar. 09, 2017

Recycling Q&A, V2

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Here we go! It’s another installment of Recycling Q&A. We’ve compiled the most common question we’ve been hearing about the Go All In recycling program, and we’re answering them here. Have a question for us? Drop us a line at info [at] goallinqc.org.

Q: How do I recycle shredded paper?

A: Please place shredded paper into a paper bag. Fold it over or staple it, then mark the bag on both sides with the words “Shredded Paper” so that our workers can identify it and pull it off the line for recycling.

Please do not place shredded paper into your cart loosely. If you do, it could become blowing litter when the recycling truck tips your cart.

If you have a large quantity of shredded paper to recycle, you can drop it off in the dedicated roll-off container labeled “Shredded Paper” at the Scott Area Recycling Center, 5640 Carey Ave., Davenport.


Q: I have a small, empty propane tank. Can I recycle it?

A: Yes, but not in your recycling cart! For safety reasons, pressurized cylinders should be disposed of through our Household Hazardous Materials program. Appointments no longer required.


Q: I have an old set of encyclopedias (or other hardback books). How do I recycle these?

A: You can recycle books in your recycling cart. Please remove the covers first.


Q: What do I do with greeting cards?

A: You can recycle paper greeting cards. Please do not recycle cards that contain embellishments such as jewels, ribbons, or other materials. These types of cards can be repurposed for craft projects, such as scrapbooking, or they may be thrown away.


Q: Can I recycle milk cartons?

A: Yes, milk cartons are recyclable. Please empty and rinse before recycling.


Q: I’m confused about Styrofoam. What do I do?

A: Styrofoam is garbage. We do not have a way to recycle it, so it should be thrown away, regardless of the number it may have stamped into it.

Nov. 14, 2016

‘Go All In’ Recycling Cart Funder Releases Report

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Closed Loop Fund Carts on the Curbprovided 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.
NOVEMBER 14, 2016—Closed Loop Fund, an investment fund that finances recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing technologies to advance the circular economy, released its first public progress report [link].  Details reveal investment opportunities in the recycling industry that deliver environmental and financial returns for cities, companies, and private investors, despite the headwinds of low commodities prices.

According to Closed Loop Fund CEO Ron Gonen, “The recycling industry is poised for a new phase of growth. Based on data from our first “live” investments, we are seeing municipalities and private companies – especially those with integrated models – generate savings, revenues, and profit as a result of improving recycling infrastructure. And so far, each investment is paying back as expected.”

Lakeshore Recycling System’s new Heartland single-stream facility launched in March 2016, is already generating a profit within its first 6 months, and is poised to divert more than 1 million tons of material from landfill by 2025.  Lakeshore CEO Alan Handley says, “Recycling is core to our business. The success of the Heartland MRF illustrates our ability to increase both profitability and environmental impact as we scale.”

Key Highlights and Statistics from the Reportwhoe-report-front
•    CLF has invested nearly $20m in nine projects, unlocking over $50m in co-investment from municipalities, banks and impact investors.
•    Huge demand for investment capital: received 150+ inquiries for more than $350 million in financing.
•    4 live projects have already diverted nearly 50,000 tons of material, avoiding the equivalent of 112,000 metric tons of GHG emissions
•    100% on-time loan repayments
•    Nearly $250,000 in economic benefit to municipalities
•    Activities reach or represent recycling generated by nearly 900,000 households around the country

The opportunities to generate environmental and economic return are real, but few traditional investors are getting on board at the moment. According to Jennifer Pryce, President & CEO, Calvert Social Investment Foundation, “Closed Loop Fund is helping impact investors like Calvert Foundation understand the investable opportunities within the circular economy.”

Closed Loop Fund is just getting started and achieving scale is the biggest priority.  “Closed Loop Fund investors have exhibited tremendous leadership in coming together to support a new model for systems change,” said Gonen.  “We are building the case for more consumer product companies, impact investors and institutional investors to capture the value of optimal recycling and circular systems in the United States by demonstrating these investments make financial sense.”

Unstable commodity prices expose the challenges in the current system, as operators adapt to ever-evolving single-stream materials with outdated equipment, operational inefficiencies, and misaligned contracts.  “We have focused our investments on municipalities and companies that are doing what works – writing smart contracts, showing commitment and leadership, and building forward thinking business models and operations,” said Gonen.

Key Insights from the Report on How Projects Are Ensuring Success in the Recycling System
•    Commitment of public leadership
•    Alignment of contracts and RFPs among parties
•    Focus on performance and data
•    Diversified resources from a variety of investors
•    More market pull created by new end markets for post-consumer recycled materials

And ultimately, end market demand will ensure success moving forward.   CLF is committing 20% of its capital to develop robust end markets to ensure the system economics work.  According to Gonen, “You can expect to see several end market investment announcements from us in 2017.   We have some great business models in our pipeline that will maintain value across a range of commodities.  Stay tuned”.

About Closed Loop Fund
Founded in 2014, Closed Loop Fund is an investment fund that provides cities access to the capital required to build comprehensive recycling programs. Closed Loop Fund aims to invest $100 million by 2020 with the goal to create economic value for cities by increasing recycling rates in communities across America. Closed Loop Fund brings together the world’s largest consumer product, retail, and financial companies committed to finding a national solution to divert waste from landfills into the recycling stream in order to be used in the manufacturing supply chain. Key supporters include 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, Keurig Green Mountain, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. For more information, visit www.closedloopfund.com.

Oct. 27, 2016

You Asked! Recycling Answers Revealed, V1

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Q-C recyclers have been asking some super questions about the new GO All In recycling program.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Every now and then, we’ll post Q&A based on your questions. Chances are, if one person asked it, many more people are wondering about it.

Here we go!

Plastic bags
Can I recycle plastic bags in my cart if they have a number on them?

A: No. Plastic bags and films of any kind are one of the biggest hazards at our recycling facility. Plastic bags become tangled in our sorting equipment, posing real hazards for our sorting staff. Once staff untangles them, they are trucked to the landfill. You can help keep recycling workers safe by keeping plastic bags out of your recycling cart. Instead, recycle bags at grocery stores.

Can I recycle Styrofoam in my cart if it has a number on it?

A: No. Styrofoam, even if it’s marked with a number, does not go into your cart. Styrofoam should be disposed of in your garbage cart. If you place Styrofoam in your cart, workers must sort it out by hand, and then it gets trucked to the landfill. The process is much more efficient if you place Styrofoam into your garbage cart, instead.

Scraps of metal and metal items
Can I recycle small pieces of metal in my cart? I have curtain rods.

A: No. Scrap metal, no matter how small, does NOT go in your cart. Metal pieces can damage our sorting equipment and create hazards for the people who sort your recyclables by hand. You can recycle scrap metal by dropping it off at the Scott Area Landfill. (The material will be recycled and not landfilled.)

Shredded paper
How do I recycle shredded paper?

A: To recycle shredded paper, place it inside a paper bag. Close the bag and mark it “Shredded Paper” in bold letters. Then place it into your cart. A second option is to bring your shredded paper to to the Scott Area Recycling Center, 5640 Carey Ave., Davenport. There’s a container just for shredded paper in the drop-off recycling area out front.

Pop and beer cartons
Q: Can I still recycle pop and beer cartons?

A: Yes! The slick-coated cartons used to package pop and beer go into your cart.

Window envelopes
Do I need to remove the small, plastic window from envelopes before recycling them in my cart?

A: Nope. The truth is, this hasn’t been a concern for many years. Just pop the whole envelope into your cart!

Any questions?
Have a question about what’s recyclable? Contact us or use the online recycling & disposal search tool.

May. 26, 2016

Bettendorf Grandma Can’t Wait to Recycle More Plastics

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Marcie Bortleson may be an empty nester today, but for many years, her nest was brimming.

A Bettendorf resident for 20 years, Bortleson has five adult daughters, all with families of their own. Now retired, she worked for North Scott School District for 20 years and Pleasant Valley Schools for nine as a self-described “lunch lady.”

Like many people, Bortleson recycles for practical, environmental reasons.

“It just makes good sense to try to reuse things. It’s a small part people can play to be a good member of the community,” she says.

Being part of the community is important to Bortleson, a 2016 graduate of Bettendorf 101: Citizen Academy, a seven-week educational program exploring the city.

When it comes to changes to her recycling program coming August 1, 2016, Bortleson is optimistic. She looks forward to recycling more materials—especially plastics.

She says, “I think it’s exciting that they continue finding new ways to make better use of things that are thrown out.”

Apr. 18, 2016

Spencer and Mavis the Bulldog Go All In

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With a degree in environmental science, Spencer Brothersen of Davenport knows all the reasons why recycling matters.

His personal favorite? “Recycling allows us to create new things from old,” says the Central High School and University of Iowa graduate.

As an employee of Waste Commission of Scott County, which operates the Recycling Center, Spencer might recycle more than most. He’s looking forward to his new recycling cart for that reason, among others.

“Carts are easier,” he says. “It’s less work for me.”

Apr. 18, 2016

50 Years and Glad to be Recycling

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Back in the 1970s when Bob and Lois Larew moved into their Davenport home, recycling wasn’t an option.

That changed in 1995 when recycling started in Scott County, and the Larews haven’t looked back.

“I can’t think of a time when we’ve not had our recycling cart out to be picked up,” says Bob, a crossing guard at Garfield Elementary School. “We’ve been doing it since recycling started.”

Lois says that with the old recycling program, they usually had too many recyclables to fit into their bins—one for paper, one for containers. The new cart will allow the couple to recycle more with less effort.

“And we look forward to recycling more!” says Bob.

Apr. 18, 2016

A Davenport Family That Recycles Together, Has Fun Together

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Growing up in rural Iowa taught Leslie Klipsch to appreciate green spaces, farm-fresh food and all things natural.

A clean, healthy environment for all is important to this mom of three—Oliver, Eli and Sintayehu—and her husband, Jake.

The Klipsch kids understand why recycling is important—reasons like saving natural resources and keeping the planet clean. They’re excited about recycling more plastics with the new Go All In program, and everyone will be taking turns pushing the new cart to the curb.

“Recycling is important to us,” says Leslie. “It’s definitely a part of daily life.”