The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has launched a virtual conversation series to help prepare the business community for the immediate and longer-term sustainability implications of COVID-19. This conversation focused on the importance of robust recycling and recovery systems both in the current context of COVID-19 and in the resource-constrained future.
Recycled materials can be used to produce everything from hospital beds, curtains, and ventilators, to packaging for the distribution of essential goods such as groceries and medical supplies. Recycling operations supply 40% of these manufacturers’ raw material needs for production. A continued pipeline of recycled materials is especially critical in ensuring adequate, sustainable supply during this economically tenuous time.
In the current environment, it is equally important that organic raw material in the form of rescued food makes it to end users such as food banks. A well-functioning recycling and recovery system can also mitigate carbon emissions resulting from organic waste—critical to accomplishing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In this conversation, we discussed the interdependencies between the supply, distribution and collection of these essential feedstocks in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic and what lessons we can learn to inform how we respond in the future.
We also shared key learnings from the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Beyond 34 initiative, a private-public partnership between technical partners, local governments, local chambers, and major corporations and solutions providers, to optimize recycling and recovery systems throughout the U.S.