Ron Gonen is obsessed with recycling. He started a recycling program in high school, founded Recyclebank while in graduate school, and worked as Mayor Bloomberg’s New York City’s deputy commissioner for sanitation, recycling, and sustainability.
In 2014, Gonen co-founded Closed Loop Fund—a project finance fund created by large retail and consumer goods companies to invest in building infrastructure that will increase product and packaging recycling, ensuring that material gets back into the manufacturing supply chain
“Without easy access to recycling, we are literally throwing money into the garbage,” says Gonen. “Investing in recycling means investing in communities and economies across the country. That’s the powerful, simple truth that keeps me passionate about my work.”
“We believe that everyone should have access to curbside recycling, and our investment in Closed Loop Fund will help make this a reality in communities across the country.”
Today, Amazon announced a $10 million investment in Closed Loop Fund as part of its commitment to minimizing waste and making it easier for customers and communities to recycle. Over the next 10 years, Amazon’s investment will increase the availability of curbside recycling for 3 million homes in communities across the country, diverting 1 million tons of recyclable material from landfill and eliminating the equivalent of 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. This initiative adds to Amazon’s waste reduction efforts, including its Frustration-Free Packaging program that has eliminated over 500 million boxes and more than 244,000 tons of packaging materials over the last 10 years.
“We know our customers want to recycle and minimize the amount of waste that ends up in landfill,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide director of sustainability. “We believe that everyone should have access to curbside recycling, and our investment in Closed Loop Fund will help make this a reality in communities across the country.”
Amazon’s investment will go beyond bringing curbside recycling to new areas, making recycling more effective where it already exists. The fund invests in recycling technology and end markets to ensure that more of what is collected in curbside recycling programs makes its way into new domestic products and packaging. Over the next 10 years, Closed Loop Fund aims to eliminate more than 16 million tons of greenhouse gas, divert more than 8 million cumulative tons of waste from landfills, improve recycling for more than 18 million households, and save nearly $60 million for American cities.
About half of Americans today lack access to convenient, sufficient curbside recycling at their homes, according to Closed Loop Fund. The problem is particularly acute in “recycling deserts” across the country, where towns are
so far apart that the cost of providing recycling services has greatly outweighed the benefits. Closed Loop Fund finances the building of advanced recycling infrastructure and services in these rural areas, bringing this service to the community while saving taxpayers and municipalities money.
Every year, US cities collectively spend billions of dollars sending waste to landfill rather than having them recycled due to insufficient infrastructure. Building this infrastructure is one of the greatest opportunities to increase recycling in the country, Gonen believes. Closed Loop Fund aims to invest $100 million by 2025. Currently, they’ve committed to distributing nearly $71 million in six municipalities, 10 private companies, and one private non-profit social enterprise across 15 states by providing below-market-rate loans to municipalities and recycling companies to prove that recycling business models are financially sustainable now and into the future.
“Amazon's investment in Closed Loop Fund is another example of how recycling is good business in America,” he said. “Companies are seeing that they can meet consumer demand and reduce costs while supporting a more sustainable future and growing good jobs across the country."