New Beyond 34 Recycling Improvement Projects Launched in Orlando

The goal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCCF) Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for a new Economy (Beyond 34) is to move the United States beyond its current 34 percent recycling rate. To achieve that goal, USCCF developed a collaborative, data-driven model that it applies directly to local regions, or communities learn from and apply on their own—with the hope that in the aggregate the result of all these communities utilizing the Beyond 34 model increases the country’s recycling rate beyond 34 percent. USSCF announced in September 2017 that it would pilot the Beyond 34 model in the Orlando region and has been working in the region since then.


This is an exciting time for Beyond 34 since (1) a new wave of funding is enabling the launch of several implementation projects in the Orlando region that will increase recycling and that can be replicated in other regions; and (2) USCCF has written an expansion plan for Beyond 34 that makes the model faster, smarter, and more resource efficient by incorporating lessons learned from the Orlando pilot. Thanks to the generous support of The Dow Chemical Company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and The Coca-Cola Company, USCCF has engaged a number of implementation partners to conduct more than $100,000 worth of prioritized projects to increase recycling in the Orlando region, some likely to commence before the end of the year. These projects embody a variety of mechanisms to improve recycling, including coordinated education campaigns, increased commercial recycling, and reduced contamination.


A Little History


As detailed in the Beyond 34 case study report, USCCF established this initiative as a unified voice of business bringing together the recycling supply chain in local areas to stimulate comprehensive recycling system development. The ultimate goal of the Orlando region pilot was to gain learnings, refine the approach, and provide communities with a blueprint to increase recycling rates.


The model tested in the Beyond 34 pilot involved catalyzing local stakeholders from across the recycling value chain, equipping the community with data and analysis of its current recycling system, developing projects to optimize recycling in the region, and then implementing some of those projects with resources from local sources and Beyond 34 support. USCCF hosted three local stakeholder meetings with over 55 participants per convening. The most recent one was an Orlando Region Recycling Leaders meeting on November 1, 2018. To analyze the current system, USCCF contracted sustainability and recycling consultant RRS to produce a gap analysis detailing the uptake of recycling best practices across the Orlando region. To supply the Orlando community with additional ideas on how to increase recycling rates, USCCF, in collaboration with a number of organizations, developed business cases for 14 implementation projects. Further, RRS calculated that if the Orlando region met the state’s 75% regional recycling goal for key materials, the region would generate $84 million in economic opportunity in total from both captured commodity value and avoided disposal cost. RRS also calculated that the region would see 8,484 direct and indirect new jobs from collection, processing, and manufacturing activities, as well as from those organizations that service the recycling sector.


Implementation Projects in the Orlando Region


USCCF is excited to announce funding of projects that are estimated to increase recycling in the Orlando region. The impact of each project will be measured and those results will be used to inform if and how they are done in other regions. USCCF worked with a variety of nonprofit and for-profit entities to develop these projects.


USCCF is funding the below projects, and execution of projects will begin in late 2018 through early 2019. In addition, USCCF ensured part-time personnel capacity with the installation of both a Lead Local Project Manager and a Local Recycling Fellow.



Communications campaign

USCCF is providing seed money to jump start additional fundraising efforts for The Recycling Partnership’s existing “It’s All You” communications campaign in the Orlando region.

Waste audits at convenience stores and facilities/warehouses

USCCF is providing funding for Orlando-based MSW Consultants to conduct waste audits at local convenience stores and facilities/warehouses. USCCF is collaborating with The Coca-Cola Company and the National Association of Convenience Stores to identify convenience stores willing to undergo the audits and implement the recommendations. Waste audits will also be provided to a couple strategic facilities and warehouses that are attending the recycling workshop that Florida Recycling Partnership and Florida Department of Environmental Protection are organizing in February 2019 in Orlando for facilities and warehouses.

Standardized labels

Recycle Across America (RAA) is focused on bringing its standardized label on what can be recycled to residential bins and local businesses—something the City of Orlando has made a priority. RAA’s label is already in notable Orlando region locations such as its airport, many of its schools, and Orange County Convention Center. USCCF is providing Beyond 34 funds to support the City of Orlando’s goal to have RAA’s label on residential bins and in local businesses.

Downtown core recycling

The City of Winter Park has a historic downtown core that recycles very little. USCCF is providing Beyond 34 funds for Kessler Consulting to work with the local merchants group and the City of Winter Park to hold convenings, and develop and implement a plan to set up recycling in the downtown core.

While these projects are underway, USCCF will collaborate with local entities to host convenings to update Orlando region leaders from across the recycling supply chain on these projects and continue progress towards systems change efforts like re-opening the sole materials recovery facility in the region. Also, USCCF will continue to communicate with the general public via blog posts such as this one about the status and results of these projects to increase recycling and institute a more circular system in the Orlando region.


Applying the Beyond 34 Model in More U.S. Communities


The only way the Beyond 34 initiative will get the United States beyond its current 34 percent recycling rate is replicating the model in more regions. While implementation is just starting in earnest in Orlando, USCCF has already completed critical phases of the Beyond 34 model in the Orlando region and learned a number of lessons.


The lessons learned from Orlando that have been incorporated into the expansion plan include:

  • Making sure the gap analysis contains more projects and with more details on how such projects would be implemented in the focus region
  • Securing at the outset more local-based funding for the effort
  • Engaging a wide variety of recycling organizations at the beginning, such as the local recycling association, local recycling consultants, and recycling project finance funders
  • Providing more guidance on how the Beyond 34 effort rolls up into a long-term vision and plan for the local region, and on how this effort transitions to local ownership
  • Conducting a more thorough mapping of relevant local stakeholders earlier on in the process to ensure all essential players in the recycling chain are invited and involved

USCCF is inviting supporters to bring the refined Beyond 34 model to a new region. USCCF plans to start applying the model in a new region in early 2019. USCCF will choose a new region that wants to actively engage in the Beyond 34 effort, where applying the model would have an impact on the level of recycling, and in which Beyond 34 supporters want to make an impact.


USCCF is also taking steps to provide the resources necessary for any locality to apply the Beyond 34 model. Over the course of 2019, USCCF will make available tools and resources for anyone to learn about the model, decide if it is right for them, and determine how best to apply it. This set of resources will include all analyses conducted as part of Beyond 34, a listing of all Beyond 34 partners and the kind of work they do to increase recycling in local regions, and a guide detailing all steps of the Beyond 34 model from initiation to analysis to execution to measurement. Ultimately, the vision is to have USCCF directly apply the Beyond 34 model in localities, as well as communities taking on the model themselves, thereby accelerating progress toward recycling rates well beyond 34 percent nationally.